According to Wikipedia, A best practice is a method or technique that has been generally accepted as superior to any alternatives because it produces results that are superior to those achieved by other means or because it has become a standard way of doing things, e.g., a standard way of complying with legal or ethical requirements.
In other words, best practice means doing what is most effective and feasible to achieve the goals you have set. Best practice is a wonderful concept because it means the practitioner is striving for quality which is brought on by continuous cycles of development, implementation, and reflection.
Several professions seek to observe best practice, for example, as an educator I know that a good teacher will always work to implement lessons that reflect the best practice for what is being taught. Anyone who has been to a doctor in their lives had better hope he or she observes the best practices in healthcare.
Best practice is a result of what is known as a continuous development cycle. There are different variations of what the cycle itself consists of as well as how many steps there are but the general idea is that a problem is identified and reflected upon, a plan is then developed and implemented, then the results of the implementation are reflected upon and the cycle repeats itself. So the outcome of continuous development is best practice, which is the most effective approach that can be taken, with given knowledge and resources, to achieve a goal.
Best Practice in Freemasonry:
Consider this: your lodge, your Masonic district, and your jurisdiction are all perfectly adapted to obtain the results they are currently experiencing. Another way to put this is that every policy and program which gets implemented is perfectly designed to achieve the outcome which is experienced, regardless if said outcome falls short of or exceeds the goal.
This is a powerful realization, or at least it was for me. The results we experience in our fraternity are the fruit of our practices and we have a lot more control over the outcomes of our practices in the long run if we employ continuous improvement.
Unfortunately, nothing worth doing is ever easy. Continuous improvement requires buy-in from the majority of the stakeholders, a goal to strive for, and a way to measure progress. In our organization we often see leaders making important decisions with no buy-in from the membership and goals are often general or non-existent. In many parts of the country, this is the standard for doing things. It’s not the best way, it’s just the unquestioned standard.
Best practice and continuous improvement are both broad and deep concepts; far too much for a single blog post. This post is the first in what will become a series on what I believe to be an important topic. Our fraternity is facing several problems, some real and some perceived, and each year new programs are rolled out with little or no success.
In my next post, “Creating A Vision and Goals”, I am going to look at the process for implementing continuous improvement cycles and give some examples of what best practice might look like in the lodge. It’s important to note that continuous development in the lodge will have to be a labor of love. It will be hard, especially if there are members that resist any kind of change. This is because the best practice for a lodge, especially one that may be doing poorly, can be a drastic change from its standard practice.
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