By Jor-El Godsey
Remember when calling a center “Crisis Pregnancy Center” represented a widely accepted “best practice”?
Best practices, as defined at BusinessDictionary.com, are “methods and techniques that have consistently shown results superior than those achieved with other means, and which are used as benchmarks to strive for.” PRC’s have adopted varied practices over the years. Some flowed from moral or ethical considerations, others were informed by results or intuition. Hopefully, positive results followed all these practices. But have all these practices been subjected to rigorous comparison to “other means”? That is a critical step to specifically defining a best practice.
Any packaged “best practice” should be evaluated in light of the overall mission. This should include understanding the client who is the mission’s target, as well as the vision of the organization and its own definition of success. Variations between organizations, even programs within organizations, suggest that some, perhaps, many practices can’t be applied in the same way from organization to organization with the same effectiveness.
Best practice is more often a high-sounding buzzword for promotional material than an objective, empirical reality. It’s vital to analyze the foundation of any claim involving a best practice. For example in focus testing of the name “Crisis Pregnancy Center,” our target clients’ responses were weak. As a result, the term “crisis” has largely been eliminated from elements of client marketing in favor of new language with broader appeal.
Practices can certainly be good, effective, productive, healthy and even excellent. In time, these may even prove to be best! Until that time, some practices are really just common sense, conventional wisdom, and even basic standards.