Jacob J. Walker's Blog

Scholarly Thoughts, Research, and Journalism for Informal Peer Review

Using the term “Best Known Practice” as a new Best Known Practice of Best Practices

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For some time I have been uneasy with the term “best practice” as it inherently states that there can be a practice that is best, and that we can know it.   While it is potentially possible that something could truly have a best practice, by our understanding of epistemology, it is not possible to know for sure we have found the best.  This is why science now has as part of its core philosophy the idea that a scientific statement must be falsifiable.  In other words, you must always leave room for improvement of the theory, and the possibility that something isn’t the best.

In many ways the idea of “best practices” was a step forward, than not caring about whether we were using the best known way of accomplishing something, for the context at hand.  But it is time to evolve and improve our terminology to improve our future.

I have heard that the term “promising practices” has started to be used, and this in many ways is similar to the term “best known practice”, but I believe “best known practice” is more likely to have wider adoption, because it doesn’t change the essence of wanting us to have the best, nor is it that much different in how it sounds, but the subtle difference of meaning can help to build a future of quality improvement, because there is almost always a way to learn a better practice, such that we have improved best known practices.

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Written by Jacob Walker

September 9th, 2011 at 7:40 am

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses to 'Using the term “Best Known Practice” as a new Best Known Practice of Best Practices'

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  1. Since writing this article, I have found others who agree with me on the use of Best Known Practice:

    Lean Term: Best Practices

    There are no Best Practices

    Jacob J. Walker

    21 Oct 11 at 8:03 pm

  2. […] so you can make your own decision about whether to follow my advice or not.  (I really don’t like the phrase “best practice”, but I’ll use it for now, as it is what is commonly […]

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