Wanted: Organizational Historian
As management lines go, "We've always done it that way" is rightly mocked. It can be an excuse for a failure to consider new and perhaps better approaches.
There is, however, a close and more helpful relative of that line: "What has worked in the past?"
When institutional memory fades, it is easy to overlook what once worked. Sound practices can be, for various reasons, simply abandoned. Think of how often someone comes up with an exciting new strategy and then later it is discovered that the organization, once upon a time, did exactly that or planned but didn't execute the approach.
This is a subject that I've explored before and yet some recent projects have made me wonder why there is such common resistance to designating an organizational historian. Is it because preserving history is regarded as akin to stifling new thought? Is the word "history" itself scary or stodgy? Or does the person who suggests such a responsibility risk being regarded as a less-than-serious decision maker?
Perhaps the status quo is defended by someone announcing, "We've always done it that way."