Didn’t this fail last time around?

Spend less time in history and focus on the future. Something you often hear around finance departments these days. History has already happened and is less interesting. This may be the case for looking at your revenues and costs from 2015 or spending enormous amounts of time reconciling Budget 1 to forecast 2 and forecast 3 (plan to plan to plan variance analysis…it does exist). Question is whether it is so uninteresting as we would like it to be. What has happened has happened and we cannot change it. That is true, we cannot, but that’s not the point. It is not about trying to change what happened, it is about understanding why it happened, especially when it comes to things we tried and failed.

Did you try to set up a shared service centre in 2014 but failed? Why it failed could be a reasonable question to answer before trying again.

I once worked on a project that involved quite a bit of change to process and systems. One of the teams, guys who had been around the company for two decades, were just enormously resistant to the whole thing. Jumping to conclusion I had them pegged as too old and too tired to deal with the change and just being general change resistant people. Wrong!

As the project became harder I invited them out for a beer and what I was told was quite humbling.

In essence, this is what they told me:

“We have been here for 20 years. About every 3 years some 29-old come up with a plan on how we need to change. There is nothing wrong with that and we really are not trying to be a pain to you guys. But we have seen this tried and failed so many times before, and the approach never really changes. We just re-trench and then go again. Like some World war I army who keep running into machine gun fire because it’s “about time to give it a go”. So forgive us for being reluctant to accept another plan at face value that looks more or less like the last one”.

Point taken. How to best mitigate the “here we go again effect”. Personally I think it has  a lot to do with what is required to draw benefits from a transformation.

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