TOOLS FOR TRAINING | Ann Marie Dinkel
effectiveness. If the results are not what
you expected, or if the practices cause
workplace difficulties, an adjustment may
According to Mike Morrison, a former
head of University of Toyota, the key is to
adapt best practices, not just adopt them. 7
He contends that those who adapt are more
successful than those who just adopt other’s
methods. Best practices should serve as
general guidelines rather than a “cookbook”
solution. Every organization is unique, so
what works for one application likely needs to be tweaked for another.
PERFORM A GAP ANALYSIS
The next step is to perform a gap analysis. Simply put, compare your
discovered benchmarks against your current situation. Are the identified
best practices realistic, given the resources available, or are they in the
realm of “with an unlimited budget and time, here's what I would do?”
Implement the change, including measurements for analysis.
Sometimes this is an easy thing; other times, it is not. The more people
who need to be involved to implement best practices, the more difficult
implementation becomes. Change is hard, but change and measurement
may stir resentments of being watched too closely or being pressured to
perform. This can be mitigated by good preparation to encourage buy-in
at every level. Team building may be helpful before implementation.
One final thing: Once you embark on the search for best practices, it
becomes a continuous project, not a static, one-time event. Innovation
is a constant, and those who do not keep up risk going the way of the
rotary phone. Use your networks, professional organizations, and publications to identify the current and future best practice trends.
1. Retrieved from: http://sbinformation.about.com/cs/bestpractices/a/
2. Read more: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/best-practice.
3. Retrieved from: http://www.investopedia.com/terms/b/best_practices.asp
4. Retrieved from: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newSTR_76.
5. Retrieved from: http://www.bpir.com/benchmarking-what-is-bench
6. Retrieved from http://www.qualitydigest.com/feb/bench.html
7. Hall, B., “How To Find Best Practices,” Chief Learning Officer, Sept.
2013, p. 16.
Ann Marie Dinkel, RLATG, has over 30 years of facility and staff
management experience and serves as Adjunct Faculty at the Delaware Technical Community College and the Drexel MLAS program.
She is a consultant and trainer in Laboratory Animal Science.
Every organization and program goes through periods where some- thing just doesn’t work as expected. Diminishing results, turnover, and
other common problems call for creative
solutions. One way to explore creative
solutions is to look at best practices.
While this appears to be somewhat of a
buzz phrase, it can be related to industry
standards. What are best practices, how
are they determined, and how does it
translate to improved training programs?
The use of best practices can save corporate or personal resources and
deliver an overall better product or service, including improved training
activities. Methods of delivery, creative ideas to “set” information, or transformative activities to manage change or adapt to financial realities are all
possible drivers for seeking and implementing best practices. Their use can
save time, keep trainers from reinventing the wheel, and also from repeating
other people’s mistakes.1 Since best practices are supposed to be the best
way to accomplish something, some data collection and benchmarking are
necessary to determine actual, rather than assumed, best practice.
In general, best practices are equivalent to current professional standards. According to the Business Dictionary, best practice is a method or
technique that has consistently shown results superior to those achieved
by other means. 2 Another source is more specific; “a set of guidelines, ethics, or ideas that represent the most efficient or prudent course of action.” 3
Best practices can be set by an authority or professional body, or be otherwise determined by the seeker, based on information collected.
SET A BENCHMARK
The first step is to benchmark. A benchmark is a reference or standard
by which you measure your progress. 4 Benchmarking can be formal or
informal; in fact, most people do informal benchmarking all the time.
Essentially, we learn from other people, find out how our friends and
colleagues handle problems similar to ours, and learn new and better
ways to do things. Formal benchmarking involves identifying the practices of very successful organizations to determine what they are doing
that makes them successful. 5
For benchmarking to be effective, It is important to identify what
information to collect, what process is used to collect it, who to collect
it from, and how to analyze and use the results. 6 Remember that you
are not looking at the organization as a whole, but focusing on targeted processes you have identified as needing improvement within the
organization. Where is the opportunity for improvement?
DETERMINE YOUR GOALS
Once the desired information and processes are identified and the
organizations or people are selected, a goal must be determined. What
is considered success or improvement, so that implementation can
be evaluated? It is necessary to monitor implementation and measure