[Jay] Heinrichs had been teaching his son for years how the most productive arguments use the future tense, the language of choice and decisions. (Past is about blame and punishment, present about belonging, about bonding or separating.)” Bloomberg Businessweek, March 19 2012.
OK, I get it. I’m also one who tries too often to spit into the wind. A good judo instructor will show us how to use what exists and leverage it to our advantage. Not try and take a force directly on.
Yet, in my experience, understanding the past is about knowing your future (or avoiding a repeat of the past). I don’t know how many times I’ve heard “It is too late now!” This battle cry says that the misdeeds and actions of the past are completely irrelevant and should never be mentioned again but instead we should just focus on fixing what is in front of our noses right now.
This kind of history is often preceded by months or even years of “no, we don’t want to do that, there is no problem right now, why should we do anything differently than we’ve ever done before?”
Instead, I would take the track record of past projects and use them to model how things will go on the current project. Many times I’d hear “Bruce, we don’t want to do that! Lots of things went wrong on that last project. Let’s just forget about it and not mention it any more!”
What do you think happened in those projects that ignored the past? Yes, we performed the same: delivered late, with low quality, and the inevitable cost overruns.
Also think about Is Our Project’s Cost Overrun Really Just A Schedule Problem?
What happend on projects where we based them on our recent past performance? They delivered on time with good quality.
See its The Schedule Stupid
Knowing how our words affect our discussions is important to getting to good agreements. Ignoring relevant facts however, such as past performance, is rarely a step towards making real improvements. In my experience, we need to spent a significant amount of time understanding our past in order to improve our future.
For more see To Be Masters Of Our Universe We Need To Deep Dive
How do you go about discussing the past to help ensure the future is successful?