Friday, September 23, 2005

The Hard Work of Failure Analysis

When does thinking outside the box become professional suicide?
Or is it that I am paid to use my critical thinking skills and think rather than follow the crowd?
When does thinking beyond, ahead of the box become a professional asset?

Failure Analysis...
How often do we think critically about project failures? If we admit that they exist, we're more likely to explain them by blaming some external factor or some other entity. How often do we take credit for a failure?

I share a lot of the thinking of this article and wish I could find a way to put some of the insights in practice. I am convinced that we could learn a lot if we paid more attention to where projects fail. Looking at a project, I can't imagine that everything went perfectly as expected and it was a complete success. Yet almost everything is turned into a success story... Perhaps some challenges encountered are highlighted, but rarely analyzed. Have you ever read a "Lessons Learned" that started with "we messed up and this is what we've learned, so next time we'll definitely do it differently."

Do we actually learn from "lessons"? In most cases, no. At best, we learn from our own mistakes if we're paying attention, even if we don't publicize those mistakes and share them with others. But do we really need everyone to be making the same mistakes, just because we don't want to talk about them...?