Kaplan: Next Practices vs. Best Practices
Monday, November 21, 2016
Understanding best practices and applying them to increase business model productivity is an essential capability for all organizations. No surprise most companies benchmark their performance adopting practices ranging from accessing benchmarking data to sourcing (internal and external) process improvement capabilities. Like all learned behaviors the earlier it is adopted the easier it is to scale and to apply in other markets. Entrepreneurs and small business leaders should start with a back of the napkin approach. Be specific about goals and take the napkin out a lot.
It doesn’t take long to exhaust the library of best practices in any given industry. Field organizations have seen most of what the competition is doing and can report their observations. In addition your customers and networks have an important perspective that should be tapped. Social network platforms, like Twitter, Facebook, and Linked-in make real time information interaction possible across networks. Leverage these new tools and platforms. It is worth it.
Only exploring your own industry for best practices is limiting. New sources of competitive advantage are far more likely to come from observing and adopting best practices in completely unrelated industries. All leaders should spend more discretionary time outside of their industry, discipline, and sector. There is more to learn from unusual suspects who bring fresh and different perspectives than from the ideas circulated and re-circulated among the usual suspects. The big and important value creating opportunities will most likely be found in the gray areas between the silos we inhabit. Get out more.
Best practices are necessary but not sufficient. Business models don’t last as long as they used to. Leaders must identify and experiment with next practices. Next practices enable new ways to deliver customer value. Next practices are better ways to combine and network capabilities that change the value equation of your organization. Organizations should always be developing a portfolio of next practices that recombine capabilities to find new ways to deliver value. Leaders should design and test new business models unconstrained by the current business or industry model.
It is easy to sketch out business model innovation scenarios on the white board. It is far more difficult to take the idea off the white board for a spin in the real world. We need safe and manageable platforms for real world experimentation of new business models and systems. Since most leaders in the 21st century will likely have to change their business models several times over their careers it makes sense to do R&D for new business models the same way R&D is done for new products and technologies today. Create the space for exploration.
It is not best practices, but next practices that will sustain your organization on a strong growth trajectory. While you continue to pedal the bicycle of today’s business model make sure that no less than 10% of your time and resources is dedicated to exploring new business models and developing next practices.
Saul Kaplan is the Founder and Chief Catalyst of the Business Innovation Factory (BIF). Saul shares innovation musings on his blog at It’s Saul Connected and on Twitter at @skap5.
Related Slideshow: Power List - Business
Kevin Tracy and Oliver Bennett— There are deals and there are BIG DEALS. In Rhode Island, with all of the changing players and banking relationships, one reality is pretty much the same. If you have a big deal that needs sophisticated financing, the community banks may not be able to handle it.
Bank of America may have abandoned the Superman Building, but they are still in Rhode Island and still doing big deals. Kevin Tracy, the former Brown golfer and Oliver Bennett — long ago Fleet Bank trainees — are now the guys you bring in for a $50 million deal. The more things change - the more they stay the same.
John Hazen White, Jr. — White has taken Taco to new levels as he has made a series of strategic acquisitions to bolster the Rhode Island manufacturing company into a global firm.
He continues to be a leader in American manufacturing investing in worker retention and employee training.
Behind the scenes, White is a combination of an adviser and moral compass to many in Rhode Island. Despite taking a lower profile than his Lookout RI days, White is still a force pushing for ethics reform.
Joe Paolino — Once the young Mayor who took over in the 1980s when Buddy Cianci was forced to resign (the first time), now the leading corporate voice in Providence if not Rhode Island.
While others complain at lunches at the Hope Club and University Club about the plight of the Capital City, Paolino has rolled up his sleeves and taken on issues like panhandling and homelessness.
With a real estate empire that includes much of downtown, some of the top properties in Newport and Hasbro’s campus in Pawtucket to name a few, Paolino has close ties to Governor Gina Raimondo and even closer ties to the Clintons - could a federal appointment be in the works in 2017?
Steve Kirby — No one dominates commercial real estate in Rhode Island like Kirby does on Aquidneck Island. His red “Kirby Commercial” signs are literally everywhere across the island and in Newport proper -- they are more frequent than street signs.
Want to open a clothing store in Newport? Go see Steve Kirby. Looking to launch a startup tech firm? Call Kirby. Developed cool technology and want to start producing for the Navy? Email Kirby.
Kirby maybe the most influential in business on Aquidniick Island. (PS He will tell you which bankers to talk to).
George Nee — President of the AFL-CIO, Nee is one of the most influential players in business in Rhode Island.
He is Vice Chair of the Convention Center Authority Board, on the Commerce Corp board, the most influential voice for labor at the State House, and involved one way or another in just about every negotiation on constructing public buildings or issuing a tax stabilization agreement in Providence.
For the most part his public persona has been more muted recently, but that has not impacted his private influence. If it happens in Rhode Island, Nee has probably touched it.
Sally Lapides — If Teddy Roosevelt were alive today and saw the number of Residential Properties’ real estate signs on the East Side he would call it a monopoly and want to break up the company. Lapides not only dominates one of the most affluent sections of Rhode Island, but she also delves into the arts, education and politics.
When you sell the wealthiest and most influential their homes, you make a lot of friends.
Lapides is a force in residential real estate and it will be interesting to see what she does next.
Helena Foulkes — Two of the biggest decisions CVS ever made were the brain children of Foulkes. The Extracare card and the removal of tobacco from its stores were both influenced by Foulkes.
She has emerged as a national power in business and makes all the business lists for top women, but make no mistake - she is wildly influential in Rhode Island.
She is close to Raimondo and she may decide to jump into political waters in the future - or may decide if she can snag the CEO spot at CVS.
Visionary or Free Rider
Buff Chace — One of downtown Providence's biggest real estate magnates is a lightning rod in the Capital City. Widely considered to be one of the prime catalysts of Downcity's resurgence, Chace's accumulation of properties on Westminster Street is straight out of a Monopoly playbook.
His recent acquisition of the ProJo building has further solidified his dominance, which has not been without intense scrutiny, given his ability to continually secure -- and extend -- tax stabilization agreements at a time when the city's dire financial straits are close to reaching a head.
Wealthy, influential, and active in the community, Chace has chaired the Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy and has been a member of the Executive Committee of the Providence Foundation, and is a director emeritus for GrowSmart RI and a trustee emeritus of Trinity Repertory Theatre.
Richard Baccari — One of the biggest real estate developers in New England. For decades he has been a major player in Providence, Rhode Island and the northeast.
During that span, he has been the driving and innovative force behind some of the region's most significant residential and commercial development endeavors.
See a Stop and Shop development and Baccari probably built it. Has fought back business challenges and much more.
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