The Importance of History

This weekend I am lucky to gather with much of my extended family as we celebrate the wedding of my cousin Alexandra. We have taken this opportunity to come together and have a family reunion. As frequently happens when families gather, there are lots of stories being bantered about.

As I sit listening to these stories, the family history (both known and unknown) is fun and funny. Inevitably during our gatherings, something comes out that wasn’t previously known! Usually this results in hilarious times and lots of laughs. Getting to share memories is priceless and is important to perpetuate how we see ourselves and even can provide insight into how we view the world.

These lessons do not just apply to families but to organizations as well. Part of knowing the business is understanding the background of the decisions that have led to the current situation. Do not rely solely on what is happening in the present, but take a moment to grasp the bigger picture of the situation. One of the things that happens in poorly managed organizations when a project fails or a situation turns out poorly is a turn to blame and a focus on the bad result. To learn from this, it is important to look at the history of decision making that brought us to the current time. Bad results frequently are not the result on one bad choice or decision, but of a poor system or a series of mistakes.

Learning from mistakes first requires a willingness to admit something is wrong. It then takes the ability to step back and look at the entire process. History is important and learning from it is essential to making future decisions the most informed and best possible choices.


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