This is a story about a friend and I. My friend is single, technical engineer, living and working in Amsterdam. I am married and we have three kids to take care of. Together with my wife we ran – at that time – a Brasilian webshop and im- and export to and from Brasil and some European countries.
Some years ago this friend called me up to ask my advice. He wanted to buy a new car and wanted to know my opinion about it. At that time I drove a Toyota Avensis Verso and was very content with it. A great car, already 10 years old, it drove very well and in yearly costs for service it was ‘very’ cheap. It always started and never left me alone. I was a big fan off Toyota-cars because of all these advantages and it was the best choice I have ever made about buying a car. So I told him about my best choice and we hung up.
My friend went to the local garage and bought himself the same car. And indeed on his way back to his home, in the center of Amsterdam, he felt comfortable and at ease in his new car. Once he got home he was searching for a parking space and noticed that that was not that easy. Some available places were way to small and driving around in the narrow streets of Amsterdan in his new car was anoying him more and more. At a certain point he found a suitable place, but getting his car into the right position he had to drive back and forward a couple of times to avoid collisions to the neigbouring cars. Every time he drove backwards and looked over his shoulder or in the mirrors he saw the extra 5 chairs in the back of the car. And the more he looked the more he realized he did not need all that space. He was single, he only needed a space for his laptop and sometimes a view printed drawings.
After a while he became dissapointed in his choice and went back to the garage where he bought this car.The garage accepted the return and sold him another car, more suitable to his needs. He came back driving a Mini Cooper. He parked his new car in a second, had loads of space for his laptop and prints. It was easy to handle in the narrow streets. “This was the absolute best choice a man could made for a car!”, he told me on the telephone. He continued his enthousiastic story about the best car a man could possibly have and convinced me to swap my car as well. He assured me that his Mini Cooper would beat my Toyota Avensis Verso.
So I did and went to our garage and swapped my car for a Mini Cooper. Happy and proud I drove home. And indeed the car drove splendid, easy to handle and very nice to be seen with as well. I promissed my kids to take them on a trip with our new car as soon as possible, as they were just as enthousiastic as I was. The next day I needed to go to Germany for business and decided to take them with me. That morning I placed the three kids in the back seats, but it didn’t fit very well. Well not that easily anyway! When I arrived at my appointment my supplier gave me some boxes with try-outs to sell in The Netherlands. I opened the back of my car, but there was not enough space. I closed the deal, but went home without the trials. At home I immidiatiely swapped cars again. I went back to my old car and decided not to listen to what is supposed to be “the best” for someone else….
In the world of IT we are used to talk about “Best Practices”, and yes…. in this example-story there should be a consultant giving advice not to swap cars because they do not fit the situation. But that is not the point. The point is: “What is BEST for one, can be the WORSE for someone else”. Calling a practice “Best Practice” gives false assumptions on the practice and puts a customer in a difficult situation. Because when the offered “best practice” does not seem to fit, we make him say “I do not want the BEST”!
Think about it……. Forget about BEST PRACTICES, and search for the BEST that fits the customer!!