By all means, acquaint yourself with the management practices of Dell (in supply chain management,) Toyota (quality control,) Ryanair (working capital,) or whatever company is the present-day shining exemplar of the pertinent best practices. But beware of the risks of taking their best practices out of context and applying them to your business.
Some advantages are unlikely to be accrued by borrowing fashionable ideas from other companies. It makes sense, for example, to study how Apple’s innovations have changed the world, but the visionary in Steve Jobs can’t be replicated.
Best practices can offer deceptively simplistic solutions. Some of them aren’t implementable—even relatable. You can try replicating Google’s policy of allowing employees to spend 20% of their time on their own ideas; that initiative isn’t likely to transform a company designing gasoline engines.
Many of the basic principles of innovation are universal. But management methods succeed—or fail—in a specific context. A company’s industry, maturity, location, and leadership structures influence this context. Unless you develop a thorough understanding of all the factors that have contributed to others’ success, there’s a risk that you’re learning the wrong lessons.
Idea for Impact: You can’t truly become another company. You can only become a better version of yourself, not an inferior version of someone else. Be inspired by others’ best practices, but don’t imitate them blindly.