History repeating itself

Anyone who is relatively new to a position has likely heard the dreaded words “oh we tried that before and it didn’t work”.

 Far be it from me to question such a strong and convincing argument, but indulge me a few questions:

  •  Why didn’t it work?
  • Who said it didn’t work?
  • What did you do to try to make it work when you realized it wasn’t going to?

My new comment in the face of this reasoning is – “yes, but I wasn’t here last time you tried – let me have a crack at it”.

You see, a lot has changed since the last time you tried: new management, new employees and we now use computers instead of typewriters (and so help me, do not comment if you do not know what a typewriter is).

Are my ideas and methods better, am I more knowledgeable, do I have better skills than those that came before me – maybe, maybe not.   The point is that you can’t give up on a initiative (costs aside) just because it doesn’t work the first time.

You pick it up, dust it off and take a good long hard look at what might have gone wrong the first time …then you tweak, review, talk to people, review some more, and try again.

 And if it doesn’t quite work as expected – take ownership for it and try to find out why. Don’t just pack it away as a valiant attempt and leave it for the next generation to unearth, like some sort of time capsule.


2 thoughts on “History repeating itself

    • That’s exactly it – right idea, wrong time. But we need to be open to re-visiting these ill-timed attempts and not assume that they only have one shot. Great ideas do not have an expiry date.

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