The Problem With "We've Tried This Before"

Startups move quickly. Lots of things are tried and tested. Often conclusions are drawn quickly based on the information available at the time. 

Sometimes at startups a new guy enters the room and wants to try stuff that’s already been tried before. As a co-founder of onefinestay, this could drive me crazy. “We’ve tried this before - it doesn’t work” I used to think, & often say. Sometimes I was right, & sometimes we tried again - & had a different result. 

This issue is particularly hard to reconcile. Often “we’ve tried this before” is wrapped up in ego - “if I tried it & it didn’t work, its not like this person will figure it out”. There’s also the desire to always be learning, to not waste time, not make the same mistake twice. 

Yet conditions are always changing. The people around the table are changing, and are always assimilating new information. Organizational priorities change. The market conditions change. Internal capabilities improve. Technology improves. 

We need to recognize that things are always changing. The previous lessons learned can’t be strictly applied to the present time - doing so is a version of fixed mindset. 

So I try to always stay aware of the faulty logic that can be behind “we’ve tried this before”.