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In an earlier post, I said I was a fan of PMOs ‘in principle’.

By that, I meant I have seen PMOs that haven’t worked well for the organisation or the Project Managers. And I was falling into the trap of conflating idea and implementation. To repeat a phrase I have used before: ‘Doing something badly doesn’t make it a bad thing’. In other words, my experience of some PMOs doesn’t make the concept of a PMO wrong.

Have you ever been in the situation where a cohort of people actively pushes back on a solution to a problem? Obviously, it could be a poor solution, but sometimes the team is not reacting to the idea but to their experience of a previous application of the idea or a similar idea.

That is not to bad mouth our predecessors. On many occasions, innovation fails when we don’t have the right resources around us, be that a good sponsor, an honest teammate or technology that matches our aspiration. Sometimes command and control organisations have sought to impose change, rather than engage with their teams to build a good outcome.

Whatever the reason for the earlier failure, helping this once bitten – twice shy team embrace change will need a bit of effort to understand what went wrong last time.

It didn’t work last time – how root cause analysis can save the day

Applying a bit of analysis to the previous situation will yield valuable lessons learnt. Just remember they may not be directly related to the solution. You can improve your probability of success with better communications and fuller requirements capture (and if you put something out of scope, addressing the impact of that decision – see No mop-ups in here), and by respecting all your stakeholders.

So next time you hear that dread phrase ‘didn’t work last time’, often accompanied with a slow shake of the head to signify ‘they will never learn’. Don’t be rude. Listen and resolve the issue (not perception) at the bottom of that pit of despair.

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