October 17 2022
By: Shawn M. Galloway
A critical shared mindset to foster continuous improvement is the realization there will always be a better way to do something. Improvement will always be possible, but all progress begins with thinking differently. Since the mid-2000s, several clients began discontinuing using the phrase best practices and instead adopted the term better practices. Their concern was, "if we adopt a best practice, we might stop looking for a better way, and there will always be a better way if we keep searching."
Now numerous clients routinely conduct external and internal benchmarking trips called "Better Practice Assessments" to seek out better, but perhaps not yet so common approaches in the company or industry. When first working with Cintas, I learned of their corporate characteristics. One, in particular, was Positive Discontent, which they define as "We're never satisfied with the status quo, or content to leave things as they are. We're always seeking improvements to our processes, systems, products, and services."
Language has shaped our culture since the first humans banded into tribes—terminology matters. What language in your organization is stifling the maturing of thinking necessary for continued improvement? How old are your best practices still in use today?
"Best practices always sounded to me like once you did them, there was no more room for improvement." — John Caltagirone
"The rate at which organizations and individuals learn may well become the only sustainable competitive advantage." — Ray Stata
"All organizations are perfectly designed to get the results they get!" — Attributed to Arthur Jones
Shawn M. Galloway is CEO of the global consultancy ProAct Safety. He is a trusted advisor, professional keynote speaker, and author of several bestselling books on safety strategy, culture, leadership, and behavior-based safety. He is a monthly columnist for several magazines and one of the most prolific contributors in the industry, having also authored over 700 podcasts, 200 articles, and 100 videos. Shawn has received awards and recognition for his significant contributions from the American Society of Safety Professionals, National Safety Council's Top 40 Rising Stars and Top Ten Speakers, EHS Today Magazine's 50 People Who Most Influenced EHS, ISHN Magazine's POWER 101 - Leaders of the EHS World and their newest list: 50 Leaders for Today and Tomorrow, Pro-Sapien's list of The Top 11 Health and Safety Influencers and is an Avetta Distinguished Fellow.