The other day I spent a half a day with a client going through a lessons learned session.  We had just finished the first phase of pilot implantation for a new way of managing project implementations.  By some measures the pilot was a “failure”, that is it did not achieve the desired outcome at the level we had wanted.

But the CEO and I saw it differently; we saw it as a success.  The pilot uncovered much of the issues that get’s in the way of changing the old patterns of behaviors, those that brought success in the past, but no longer meet the needs of the future business.

So during this session I knew that each of the functional managers present had very good reasons for why they do what they do.  And they did not disappoint.  When presented with the review of findings, they defended their departments and pointed to other issues for the cause of the failure.   As I said their operational paradigms have served them in the past and brought them success.  Why should they not feel proud of it and defend it?

After a break I set the stage for the second half of the session.  I opened with a reminder


If we do what we have always done – We will get the results we have always gotten

I then invited them to engage the rest of the session from the following three perspectives

  1. Don’t defend – CREATE!
  2. Make the organization #1 and my department #2
  3. What can I change in my organization that will help other departments become more successful

It turned out that by working from these perspectives the group came to an understanding and acceptance of the deeper dynamics of why they weren’t changing and moved easily to creative solutions that will now allow them to perform at the levels required for continued success.