Good practice and best practice
ITIL V3 did a little word dance around what "good practice" and "best practice" mean which had more to do with political semantics and digging themselves out of a hole than it did about what the terms really mean. It ought to be straightforward:
What do people usually consider to be the proper way to do this? Is there a "usual" way, i.e. a generally accepted way? Is there an understanding of "proper"? if we can answer these affirmatively, then we have Good Practice.
Sometimes it is clear that there is one generally accepted good practice.
If the industry is riven by debate then either (a) we have competing good practices or (b) we don't have enough communal experience to know yet.
If a body of knowledge - such as ITIL - claims to document good practice then it should clearly state when it is situation (a). It should document all the good options and the debate, or it should form a community-accepted committee to choose one. In either approach it should make clear that there are dissenting views.
And if it is situation (b) then there is no good practice, just ideas and opinions. Either the body of knowledge should take no position, or it should clearly delineate unproven theory from good practice. ITIL fails this test: it is "not colour-coded". Look at portfolio, CMDB/CMS, SKMS, or catalogue as examples.
"Best practice" is not unproven theory and opinion either. Best practice is what you get when you do good practice to the highest standard possible: it is the end-game goal to shoot for if your objective is to have the highest quality possible. It is "10 on the dial" when you are benchmarking yourself. (Or 11 if you are a Spinal Tap fan).
"Best practice" does NOT mean state-of-the-art: there is no way to know yet whether unproven practice is "best" or a blind alley or an awful destructive idea. If it IS proven, then it forms part of good practice, and we return to the paragraph above. "Best" is best.
ITIL tried to de-brand itself as "best practice" but it keeps creeping back, even in the "official" books, including the
Both of these terms, "good practice" and "best practice", have been subject to terminological debasement. It would be a fine thing if we could get back to the obvious common sense interpretation, but in this post-modernist world it's unlikely. best we be clear that they don't mean anything any more, certainly not as ITIL (ab)uses them.
[Update, moving this up from comments:]
I blogged long long ago about how dangerous the word "best" is, however you frame it. "Best" leads with the chin.
I prefer Generally Accepted Service Practice, GASP, directly analogous to GAAP. Maybe ITIL is the last GASP.
Note that the Foundation exams define the terms but the V3 books don't (consistently), as far as I can tell. According to the exam questions (and ONLY the exam questions)
Apparently the distinction is that
Best Practices are proven activities or processes that have been successfully used by multiple organisations but has not yet become common industry practice
Good Practices are practices that are in wide industry use, they are Best Practices that have been commonly applied