The failure of a grand technological idea – part 3

This brings the case, involving learning-from-experience to an end with new lessons learned. Last part ended with the main facts that led to the failure. I call them: the operational causes. They are important to know, but they do not supply us with the answer to the question:

How come those operational causes have happened leading to such a negative result?

Next step: Identifying the core flawed paradigm

The team concluded that there are two key operational causes that the question “how come?” should apply.

  1. How come the initial specifications were verbalized only in a very generic way?
  2. How come the project team did not update the management with the “holes” in the system?

Picture pic 4a1

The team had checked all the probable causes to make sure they were valid. Most of the effects were confirmed in a direct way as both top managers and project members answered the questions openly.

The one effect that needed indirect validation was: “The project team did not fully understand the business requirements of the project and were not aware what holes are critical.” As it turned out the potential business/marketing value of having perfect external protection without anybody watching the screens was not appreciated by the project team, hence they did not bother to notify management that it seems technically infeasible.

Next step: Verbalizing the main updated paradigm

Technicians, scientists and engineers understand the technology, but, many times they do not have good understanding of the way it should be utilized by the users, the necessary marketing messages and other business aspects.

What would be the impact of the new paradigm on the way TopSecurity shall be managed?

Next step: Developing the Future-Reality-Tree

Let’s outline some possible ramifications we can achieve from recognizing the new paradigm:

Picture pic 5

Expanding the generic message from the updated paradigm

There are, at least, two ways to generalize the new understanding.

  1. Stick with the verbalization, but look for impacts that are beyond the specific operational causes of the case.

For instance, can we come up with changes to the way ideas for new products/projects are raised? For instance, a company that its business is based on state-of-the-art technology has to ensure a good match between the technological ideas and current limitations of users! The technological people have good intuition of the possibilities of the technology. People that are close to business development understand better the current needs of users.

  1. Expand the verbalization from pointing to “Technicians, scientists and engineers” to a wider scope of professional people. The need to fully understand the business case of a company, its strategy, the exact message to the various market segments the company likes to have as clients, applies to a variety of people working for the company.

Last step: Verbalizing the lessons learned

The point is now to allow people to understand what lies below the new processes, the new paradigm and learn from the previous mistakes done by others.

It should consist of the following parts:

  1. A good summary of the story.
  2. The definition of the gap – without going into more detail of the discussions and the other alternatives that were considered.
  3. A summary of the operational facts that have caused the gap.
  4. The logical tree identifying the flawed paradigm and how it caused the gap.
  5. The verbalization of the new paradigm.
  6. The new processes that were built from the new paradigm.

Please, feel free to comment or argue the case, and mainly the proposed process for learning from such an event.


Published by

Eli Schragenheim

My love for challenges makes my life interesting. I'm concerned when I see organizations ignore uncertainty and I cannot understand people blindly following their leader.

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