Walking the Talk Blog

How to spread best practice

[fa icon="calendar"] 14-Sep-2009 18:24:00 / by Carolyn Taylor

As a global citizen and frequent traveler, I am given the opportunity to see how different countries do things.

And I form an opinion of what I see as best practice. For example, did you know that Brazil’s response to the oil crisis in the ‘70s was to invest in alternative technologies for fuel, and that almost all cars in Brazil now work on, at a minimum, combination ethanol and petrol? Did you know that in Montreal, Paris and other cities in Europe, you can pick up a bicycle for free from numerous bike stands, and re-park it at another stand when you reach your destination? And, to be a little more controversial and show my bias, most Western European countries provide reasonably good free health care for all, a process accepted by rich and poor, conservative and liberal. Anything else would be seen there as third world practice.

If I were running the world....I would find a way to capture best practice and copy it in other places. Given the amount of international visits that local politicians make, I am surprised it does not happen more. Cultural inertia perhaps, or the reluctance to admit that someone else is doing something better than you are. Or to reconsider values and beliefs embedded over a long period of time.

Can you imagine the lift in your organization’s performance if the practices of the team or individual who had the best practice, were adopted by everyone else? The ROI on building a culture where this occurred is one of the easiest to quantify.


Here are some of the pieces to this cultural jigsaw:

  • At the BE level, (how people think what they value): Humility coupled with a desire for improvement which is stronger than the need to save face. Generosity, the desire to share. Open-ness to different ways
  • At the DO level, (actions and behaviours): Shared measurement systems. Movement through the organization (virtual or physical) exposing alternative approaches. Mentoring/teaching forums.
  • At the HAVE level, (outcomes): Continual lift in outputs on multiple metrics


As usual, it is the cultural underpinning (the BE level) which sets the scene for all this to occur. Humility, open-ness and generosity may not be values and attributes that your culture has rewarded and encouraged. If you lead to these values, best practice transfer becomes achievable. All the resources dedicated at this core pays back when it becomes so much easier to take action. And what is best in one location becomes the norm everywhere.


Carolyn is the CEO of Walking the Talk and author of 'Walking the Talk: Building a Culture for Success' (Random House).
Twitter @walkingourtalk or LinkedIn.


Topics: Carolyn Taylor, Be Do Have, Corporate culture, Values

Subscribe to Walk the Talk

Popular Posts

Lists by Topic

Posts by Topic

Recent Posts