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How do you deal with members that bring war stories to meetings? They talk about the same or similar exercises that have been done (in the past) and that did not bring any previous success. What do you do about Meeting Rules here?

In the case of war stories, I would use the flip chart to record what they’re saying. Often, people just want to be heard. And once you capture what they consider the “root causes” of the lack of success, then you can ask the team to brainstorm what you could do to avoid that kind of failure going forward. Treat it as something to learn from in the same way that we use the FMEA (Failure Modes and Effects Analysis) to uncover potential failures and then work on mistake proofing methods to avoid those failures associated with change. Use the war stories as just more data.

Elisabeth Swan

Elisabeth is a Managing Partner at, the co-author of The Problem-Solver’s Toolkit and co-host of the Just-in-Time Cafe. For over 25 years, she's helped leading organizations like Amazon, Charles Schwab and Starwood Hotels & Resorts build problem-solving muscles with Lean Six Sigma to achieve their goals.