The review was well underway. Questions and answers were flowing. It was easy to see that there was a positive give and take attitude from everyone in the room. As the questions went from superficial to complex, several of us began to see an emerging theme. Certain negative outcomes were not high risk because “we” were different.
I found the premise perplexing. The individuals in the room brought experiences from multiple projects and companies. Some were new to this type of initiative while others had been through it before. It was hard to identify anything within this group that made them different. Other teams in the company had a similar mix. Competitors are staffing their teams with individuals of the same caliber.
What made us different? Why would we be able to avoid the pitfalls that had trapped everyone before us?
I started to ask the question and stopped. Even a question directionally along this line of reflection was difficult for the group to answer. It seemed as though the group believed they were different. This belief along, in the absence of facts or collective reflection, translated to succeeding where others had failed. I sat silent, knowing that only time would reveal the truth to those willing to hear.
As I look back, Communities with wisdom seem to ask themselves the tough question. When they are unsure of the answer, they remind themselves of the potential pitfalls. This is not to suggest that they give into the idea of failure. On the contrary! One writer captured the thought; “The same thing could happen to us. We must be on guard so that we never get caught up in wanting our own way as they did.” (1 Corinthians 10.6)
I know questions like this are not easy. Knowing that we are more alike than we are different gives birth to difficult questions. As much as I hate them, I also know avoidance only means that I will be less prepared than I might otherwise be. While it may seem like a burden, being aware is an opportunity.