Last week I finally found a term for what I've been preaching for years... "Knowledge Bridging." What is "knowledge bridging?" It's taking expertise from one field and applying it to a completely different one. I was reading an article from the Wharton School and they were talking about how BOSE, the sound system folks, have developed the next generation of automobile suspensions. Huh? Yes you read that correctly, BOSE has found a way to transfer it's expertise in sound into (what seems like) a completely different field (automobile suspensions).
What knowledge bridging really is, is recognizing the similarities of need in different fields. As a consultant I've worked with attorneys as well as home improvement companies and often apply the same principles to both. It's about having an open perspective in identifying the real issues and not just settling for the usual answers. I've also facilitated sales training classes for a group of business owners in a variety of different businesses. Once again, knowledge bridging to the rescue. What was common for one industry was breakthrough thinking for another. Talk about Impact! Anyway, my suggestion is to stop looking for industry best practices (Benchmarking, etc.) and look to other, often unrelated industries for those transformational ideas that will set your organization apart.