Friday, 1 October 2010

Different types of practice; good, best, novel, emergent

The definition of good practice has always been contested and maybe the use of the phrase "spread good practice" is part of the problem as to why adoption of existing practice is so difficult.  The Synefin model provides us with four categories of practice:

  1. Best Practice (simple systems where the idea is obvious to all and obvious to adopt)
  2. Good Practice (complicated systems where the relationship between cause and effect is less obvious, some investigation is needed and usually adaptation in order to solve the problem
  3. Emergent practice (this occurs in complex systems where you only figure out in hindsight how something happened, how the results occurred - and this analysis is not necessarily predictive.
  4. Novel Practice from chaordic systems where there is no relationship between cause and effect

If the goal of a large scale program is to spread the use of methods or techniques that deliver improvement then I think it is important to be able to diagnose what type of practice is being touted. Often novel or emergent practices are praised as the solutions to problems, putting the pressure on other individuals, teams and organisations to do something similar - and when they don't they are castigated for not trying.

The devil in the diagnosis of type of practice. Do you have any examples of the different types of practice?

(If you are reading this in an email or on your smartphone, to get automatic updates on this blog go to and click on the Subscribe Button)

No comments: