When Are Mistakes Exactly the Best Thing to Happen?

Since we were kids we’ve been urged not to make a mistake – to “be careful” – to “pay attention to the rules” or the “right way” or the “tried and true.” Sound familiar?  What a formula for no innovation!

Mistakes are inevitable, even by the best people. Mistakes can be the evidence that creativity is at work and they can form the basis of invaluable learning. Any manager who won’t tolerate well-intentioned blunders is helping to ensure that no progress will be made and no new customers or approaches will be developed.

So what’s the key? It’s pretty obvious to leaders of highly successful organizations — foster a culture in which people are urged to try new ways and, when they do take a risk and it doesn’t work out, gather people to sit down, put their heads together, reflect on what happened and learn together. The discoveries then guide future initiatives. This practice of collaborative reflection and exploring “lessons learned” is the indication of a learning organization, which can yield terrific payoffs.

In our work as consultants to leaders, we know that these conversations can be difficult. Frequently, clients engage us to facilitate the discussion and help ensure a respectful and safe environment and a productive outcome. Sometimes they celebrate the results. So consider our service at these important moments.

The most motivated people enjoy trying new ways; help them and your organization to thrive by creating organization practices that foster genuine creativity and learning.