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Whenever the topic of stewardship comes up we must take a look at the concept of best practices. Ideally, it should be the normal mode of operation within the organization to operate using best practice models. A best practice is defined as a technique or model that consistently shows superior results over other techniques or models.

One of the keys to operating with best practices models is to make sure you are aware of best practice models within your field of service. To be aware of best practices, you must take time to study and learn about other organizations….what they are doing, what is working, and what is not. Take advantage of research studies and the experiences of others to know that works before you spend a lot of time and energy trying something.

While I believe and support the concept of best practices, I also believe that we should also be innovative. Innovation, or trying something new,  is what will take your organization to the next level and set it apart as a leader in its field. But, to be truly innovative, use the following guidelines.

  • Have an understanding of what works and what doesn’t in the field – you are not being innovative if you are doing something that doesn’t work.
  • Involve everyone – often those involved in front line services will have strategies for improving the process that leadership might not have ever thought of.
  • Talk to the recipients – how is your work or service viewed by its recipients? Often the recipients of our work have very different ideas about how they would like to be served than how we are actually serving.
  • Look at how you can partner with others – Partnerships with other like-minded organizations mean that you don’t have to be the expert in everything. Instead, you can focus on what you do really well and leverage what the other organization does well to provide innovative services.

Encouraging innovation and the use of best practices will help your organization be a recognized leader in its field. Encourage everyone at every level to think “outside the box” because innovation doesn’t happen by doing things the way they have always been done. To help your staff, provide them with some guidelines for their thinking:

  • Does the innovation align with the organizational mission? If so, how? If not, then why should it be considered and is there a way to align with the mission?
  • Does the innovation align with organizational values?
  • What will the innovation cost in financial resources, human capital, etc.?

Encourage everyone within the organization to think…and find ways to recognize and reward them for their thinking. Doing so will strengthen the organization and its programs and services. And…it will also benefit you as a leader.

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