When it comes to “best practices,” peer learning is superior to traditional classroom training. I’ll explain my rationale.
A best practice is defined as “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.” (Wikipedia)
In other words, there is a standard way for handling, as an example, difficult employee behaviors. The idea is that, no matter what the situation, there is a specific way it should be handled. The underlying assumption is that what works for one company will work for all companies.
Well, we know that is not the case at all. Companies vary in organizational culture, management style, number of employees, types of positions and services, geographic locations, etc. etc. Why anyone would think that a “best practice” for a large established company would work equally well for a small startup company is beyond understanding.
Yet, when outside trainers or consultants are brought into a company to teach “best practices,” they are trying to fit a square peg into a circular or star-shaped hole. They don’t work because they don’t apply.
That is why “best practices” that are home-grown, within the context and culture of an organization, will be most effective.
And this is one end result of a peer learning group, where managers who share a common concern experiment with different strategies to determine what will work best in their workplace. They know that their practices are “best” because they have been proven effective in their environment.
As long as peer learning groups generate practices specific to their organization, those “best” practices will be more useful and appropriate than the general “best practices” taught by outside trainers or consultants.