Performance Perspectives Blog

Inconvenient truths about “best practice”

by | May 25, 2011

The weekend Wall Street Journal rarely fails to provide me with ideas for this blog, and this past weekend was no exception, as Matt Ridley’s article titled “Inconvenient Truths About ‘Renewable’ Energy” made me think about the issue of “best practice.” And how was this? He begins with the question “What does the word ‘renewable’ mean?”  You may recall that I have asked this same question before regarding “best practice.” The reality is that there are loads of different meanings, and so when it’s used it’s helpful to understand which definition the user is employing.

We know that the GIPS(R) (Global Investment Performance Standards) standards state that recommendations are “best practices,” but fails to define what the term means. A colleague recently pointed out that the CIPM (Certificate in Investment Performance Measurement) program, too, uses this term; their website includes the following: “The CIPM program applies best practices in investment analysis techniques.” (emphasis added)

And so, what is meant by this term? I will confess that I often use the term myself, but generally mean “in my opinion” or what I believe most performance measurement professionals would say or do.  I think it’s helpful to understand what is meant when one uses such an expression, as it can be quite misleading without this clarification.

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