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Often you hear the request made of

“can you give us a best practice snapshot; we would like to get a sense of where we are”.

The trouble with best practice is you are looking at someone else’s practices and these are highly individual, made up of different groups of methodologies, processes, rules, theories, values and concepts. These together have provided that specific company a level of success that others - mostly competitors - begin to notice. As the famous line in the film When Harry met Sally as Meg Ryan was faking it, went “I’ll have what she’s having”. No, there is no such thing as best practices, you can’t simply pick up and plug and play, as one organization's initiative is never the same set of conditions or positioning that others can simply copy.

We desire the “one-size fits all” as a comfort blanket. Many consultants love this request, as they do not need to apply the real skills of discernment, subject matter expertise and the difficult challenge of peeling away a client's practice to understand how they can rebuild them to become unique, into a leading practice that cannot be copied. Here lies a true competitive component and so many organizations seek to apply someone else’s practice, so they can end up as “same” practice.

Moving from “Best Practice” to “Next Practice”

The digital transformation that is underway becomes a very uncomfortable place. We are all presently learning a practice. The past best practices are now a very poor playbook for the future digital connected world. We need to ditch much of the endeavours that make up a legacy of past practice, and think forward, to which the term next practice becomes the learning spot.

No one can maintain the past, much of our systems are rooted in the 20th century, in markets that were predictable and where supply and demand were simply managed to seek out the status quo.

We are facing such an unprecedented change and technology is re-writing the rule book in everything we are going to do. Many have argued it is a foundational shift and today we are struggling to articulate or codify the shifts. We seem to be moving from the world of complicated into complex. It is hitting us in multiple ways, in scale, in speed and across the whole organization. Technology and digital is changing the business dimensions significantly.

We are moving from “pre-connectivity” to “post-connectivity

I wrote a report for HYPE on the topic of Digital Transformation, attempting to find these emerging and next practices. It has been a very, very deep dive into this subject and it is full of different views, approaches, suggestions and recommendations. In the report, I have attempted to ‘pick out’ those practices that take you towards a new thinking for digital transformation.

What I have not included in the report are these two wonderful paradigm shifts we need to take to grasp digital transformation.

The first contribution is from a short article I came across in my research written for information-age by Carl Bate, managing partner, digital strategy and transformation, Atos


This emerging shift in leadership techniques, from best to next practice, from pre-connectivity to post-connectivity, is shown here.

Best practices



Next practices


Business Processes


Value Systems

‘Known’ data


Weak signals, probe, sense and respond

Primary perspective on the parts


Primary perspective on the whole

Theory X management


Theory Y management

The organisational model


Network analysis and social capital

Enterprise Architecture


Behaviour Based Systems

Stability & predictability


Agility, adaptability & innovation

Change Management


Adoption Engineering

As-Is and To-Be grand designs


Next state, evolving, “adaptive change”

Discipline specialisation


Cross-discipline collaboration

IT systems


Information and socio-technical systems

Business/IT divide mgt & translation


Multi-discipline common language

Business & technology specification


Agile product development

Users of technology


Participants in information systems

Bespoke and corporate technology


Service and consumerised technology




Internally focused first


Externally focused first

Web model as a bolt-on to the existing


Living on the Web


The practices of ‘best’ on the left hand side are the very practices that have fostered industrialisation and led to global connectivity.

The irony is that these practices do not naturally foster external and connected views, which are essential to work in the connected world that the best practices, have helped create.

The second contribution into thinking next practice comes from a really promising book by David L Rogers called “the Digital Transformation Playbook”, recently published in April 2016, and he is offering a superb list of changes to consider as we move from the Analog to the Digital Era.

The Author offers a view on how digital forces are reshaping five key domains of strategy—customers, competition, data, innovation, and value. These five domains describe the landscape of digital transformation for business today.

Many of the fundamental assumptions are outdated and he is suggesting we move from the Analog to Digital era, with his chapters in the book to work through these. This I think is such “next practice” thinking to get us in the digital era mind-set.

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David Rogers sums up the change we are all facing from digital transformation

We live in what is commonly referred to as a digital age. An overlapping ecosystem of digital technologies —each one building on those before, and catalysing those to come—is transforming not only our personal and communal lives, but the dynamics of business for organizations of every size and in every industry.

Digital technologies are transforming not just one aspect of business management, but virtually every aspect. They are rewriting the rules of customers, competition, data, innovation, and value. Responding to this change requires not just a piecemeal approach, but a total integrated effort—a process of holistic digital transformation within the firm.”

The key is to look forward and recognize past best practices are just not relevant today. We need to look forward and seek out those “next practices” that are emerging. 

The Hype report on Digital Transformation will hopefully shed light on those leading, emerging and next practices. 

banner to download HYPE's digital transformation report

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Paul Hobcraft

Paul Hobcraft

Paul Hobcraft researches and works across innovation, looking to develop novel innovation solutions and frameworks where appropriate. He provides possible answers to many issues associated with innov