Monday, October 22, 2007

Lost Lessons Learned

Seen on a whiteboard in a vendor's conference room, under the bold headline of "Lessons Learned",  two lonely bullets:
  • Lessons learned in the past had not been applied
  • Expectations were set too high

'Twas ever thus

6 comments:

  1. Anonymous5:10 pm

    So is the problem that suppliers continue to be woefully optimistic in spite of repeated failure, or that purchasers just haven't learnt to mistrust everything a supplier tells them? Are both parties well-intentioned, if incompetent, or is there often something more insidious going on, in your experience?

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  2. Anonymous5:49 pm

    Was it Jack Straw's handwriting?

    I.

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  3. Could have been Jack Straw, Rupert Murdoch, the new head of Burberry or anyone I guess.

    On the insidiousness of it all ... there's a PHD in responding to that single question. I've got some posts in draft that will give away my views. Bear with me.

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  4. Michael4:30 pm

    Great post. Alan’s comment ('twas ever thus) is dead right of course.
    But what makes this exceptional is that it got written down in big letters and (presumably) discussed.

    What I have learned (from others cleverer than me) is that organisations don’t learn because they “rationalise out” failure – we construct reasons and arguments to justify and explain why what we originally said would happen, didn’t happen. This explains why the project was late/over-budget/didn’t do what we said it would do).

    It is not so much a blame culture, more a “no blame” culture – there’s nothing important to learn, because (come on guys) nothing really important went wrong.

    John Seddon recently wrote about this and talked about how projects (especially in UK public sector) are “doomed to succeed”. When failure is rationalised out, everything is a (sort of) success.

    I’ll be very interested to read Alan’s further posts on this.

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  5. Anonymous10:59 am

    I'd be interested to see Alan's follow ups too.

    My three reliability related rules are...

    "Patching problems never works; always fix the root problem, it will save money in the long run "
    ,
    "Keep it simple stupid; people like it "

    and

    "There is no silver bullet, but there are plenty of werewolves; it's impossible to dictate what a project should do, only what it shouldn't "

    I'm about to add a fourth, I've spent sometime coming up with it, and it's based around the following observation.
    People seem to have got it into their heads that the Gang of Four, the Rational Three, Kimball, Inmon et al, have written some kind of collective bible. I don't deny that some of the things they say are useful pointers, but these people are essentially, successful authors. This doesn't mean they aren't human. You still have to think, you just can't blindly follow a methodology.

    I think the golden rule I'm therefore adding is...
    "The best expert you know, is still only human."

    I.

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  6. doomed to succeed, as long as success can be defined after the fact?

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