Well, approach “x” worked for me when I worked at company “y”

Well, these magic beans worked for me at AIG...

Well, these "magic beans" worked for me at AIG...

Pawel Brodzinski had a wise corollary for my original post on naysayers (here).  He puts it well…

The distance between rejecting things you don’t believe in and forcing others to do things you believe in is pretty short.

It is great to bring a successful practice to a new situation, but one had better be ready to answer some basic questions:

  1. Why will “approach x” work for this problem or opportunity?
  2. What about our situation may make “approach x” difficult or not applicable?
  3. How will we resolve, mitigate, etc. the issues and risks implied the “What” question above?

I’ve never seen “solution y” successfully implemented…

Go to the mirror...

Go to the mirror...

There are some assertions — or maybe I should say incantations — about process or solution failures that never cease to puzzle me. One of my favorites is:

In my “x” years of experience, I’ve never seen “solution y” successfully implemented…

I’ve heard this about TQM, activity-based costing, Six Sigma, SAP, Oracle, Java, etc., and ad nauseum. No matter how successful or tested the approach, the person who invokes this formula believes that his/her “say-so” settles the matter.

Now I wonder: do those who use such rhetoric ever consider what they’re really communicating? Because I know what I’m thinking: “Hmm…solution ‘y’ doesn’t seem to work when person ‘z’ is around.”

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