My Big Fat Post-Mortem Failure

Joe Wynne is a versatile Project Manager experienced in delivering medium-scope projects in large organizations that improve workforce performance and business processes. He has a proven track record of delivering effective, technology-savvy solutions in a variety of industries and a unique combination of strengths in both process management and workforce management.

I am far enough away from this event that I think I have the proper perspective to pass on some wisdom. It was after a major change initiative in a company that had never seen anything like that before. A small company had grown fast through acquisitions inside a contracting industry and did not have consistent processes in field business units. Management was unsophisticated in modern management methods, yet a small group established an enterprise-wide business process reengineering effort to include leading-edge technology and a new efficient call center.

After months of planning and building the change team--and more months of implementations of initial projects--it was time to pull up and assess the results. This process should have been easy in that there was plenty of material to generate lessons learned. Plenty.

At the time, the book Reengineering the Corporation was in vogue with leaders. (There is always a book in vogue with leaders.) Chapter 14 listed mistakes to avoid when creating the changes at the scale we were making. Looking back, I can see that we made all of them. For example:

  • Ignore everything except process redesign
  • Neglect people’s values and beliefs
  • Dissipate energy across a great many reengineering projects

These mistakes created plenty of ill will, friction and outright conflict. There was once even screaming in…

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"Imagine if every Thursday your shoes exploded if you tied them the usual way. This happens to us all the time with computers, and nobody thinks of complaining."

- Jeff Raskin