The Question

At the front end of any major implementation – new CRM system, lean initiative, an acquisition – ask your people one key question: Why will this fail?

They know your organization’s history; they know your culture. Make it permissible for them to tell you why they think the implementation will fail. If you don’t ask, they will nod their heads up-and-down during your kickoff announcement then go back to the break-room and grumble, “That’ll never work.” Isn’t it better to know they feel that way before you start? And why?

Planning for success is not the same as planning to avoid failure. You have to play both offense and defense. Training people on the new CRM system is playing offense. Not punishing them when they make mistakes is playing defense. Communicating the reasons for a new CRM system is playing offense. Communicating to overcome insecurity and uncertainty about the new system is playing defense.

Plan to succeed and plan not to fail.

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