Standardized procedures, benchmarks, industry standards etc. – all these terms imply the existence of the so-called best practices, or the most effective ways of performing certain tasks. Yet sometimes it is hard to understand where these “best practices” originally came from and whether or not they really are the best ways of achieving the desired result.

It turns out that some atavisms and bad habits may sneak into day-to-day business practices and disguise themselves as efficiency boosters. Some of them are very difficult to spot, some of them turn into self-fulfilling prophecies! Check out Which Best Practice is Ruining Your Business.



  • exorbitant – huge
  • en masse – all together
  • denounce – publicly declare to be wrong or evil
  • follow suit – conform to another’s actions
  • hold something/someone back – prevent or restrict the progress of something/someone
  • query – ask a question about something, usually to express doubts about it
  • IVF – in-vitro fertilization
  • be on the back foot – feel threatened, act defensively
  • preconceived – (of an idea or opinion) formed before having the evidence for its truth or usefulness
  • erroneous – wrong, incorrect


Think about it

  Based on the text answer the following questions. Leave your answers in the comments below!

  • What was the original difference between broadsheet and tabloid newspapers?
  • How did the publishers manage to evade excessive taxation?
  • How did some fertility clinics put themselves “on the back foot”?
  • What preconceived ideas do film distributors have?
  • Explain the phrase: “bad habits masquerading as efficiency boosters”


Practice makes perfect

 In the sentences below replace the phrases in bold with the expressions from the original text. Leave your answers in the comments below!

  • When I investigated where the practice had begun — to print newspapers on impractically large sheets of paper — it appeared had its origin England.
  • They had got so used to to the size of their product that they thought it could not be done any other way.
  • Of course, well-intended managers think they are implementing best practices but, in fact, unwittingly, sometimes the practice is detrimental rather than beneficial.
  • The film distributors would have been better off if they had assigned their limited resources differently.
  • As a consequence, with all the best intentions, executives often implement what is regarded as a “best practice” in their industry.


Reread the following two paragraphs and decide whether the sentences which come under them present valid conclusions.

“When seeming best practices become self-fulfilling prophecies, they’re even more difficult to expose. Take the film industry. Film distributors have preconceived ideas about which films will be successful. For example, it is generally expected that films with a larger number of stars in them, actors with ample prior successes, and an experienced production team will do better at the box office.

Sure enough, usually those films have higher attendance numbers. However, because of their belief that those films will succeed, film distributors assign a much bigger proportion of their marketing budget and other resources to those films, as professors Olav Sorenson from Yale and David Waguespack from the University of Maryland have shown [. . .]. Once they factored this spending bias into their statistical models, it became evident that those films, by themselves, did not do any better at all. The distributors’ beliefs were a complete myth, which they subsequently made come true through their own actions. The film distributors would have been better off had they assigned their limited resources differently.”


  • It is only possible to expose seeming best practices before they become self-fulfilling prophecies.
  • If film distributors were unbiased more films would be successful.
  • Films with a large number of stars will never fail at the box office.
  • All successful films have been extensively promoted by distributors.
  • The film distributors weren’t better off because they didn’t assign their resources differently.


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