This is a story about a friend Marco and I. Marco 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 run a Brasilian webshop and im- and export to and from Brasil and some European countries.
Some years ago Marco 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 the yearly costs for service were very cheap. It always started and never left me alone. I was a big fan for Toyota because of all these advantages and it was the best choice I made. So I told him about my best choice and we hung up.
Marco went to the local garage and bought himself a Toyota Avensis Verso. And indeed on his way back 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 parkingspace and noticed that that was not so easy. Some available places were way to small and driving around in the little streets the car was anoying him more and more. At a certain point he found a suitable place, but getting the car into the right position he had to drive back and forrth a couple of times to avoid collisions to the cars next to “his place”. Every time he drove backwards and looked over his shoulder or in the mirror he saw the extra 5 chairs in the back of the car. And the more often he looked the more he realized he did not need all this space. He was single, he only needed a laptop for his work and sometimes a view printed roled of paper in a tube.
After a while he became dissapointed on his choice and went back to the garage where he bought his car. Luckily the garage accepted the car back and sold him a new car, more suitable to his situation. He came back driving a Mini Cooper. He parked his new car in a second, had loads of space for his laptop and roles of paper. It was easy to handle in the narrow streets. “This was the absolute best choice a man could make for a car!”, he told me over the phone. He continued his enthousiastic story about the best car a man could have and convinced me to swap my car as well. He garanteed 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 for a spin in the car soon, and they were just as enthousiastic as I was. The next day I needed to go to Germany for business and decided to take the kids with me. That morning I placed the three kids in the back seats, but it didn’t fit like they were used to. 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 trunk of my car, but there was simply 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 in this story. The point is: “What is BEST for someone, 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 actually 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!!