Dec 26, 2011

2011 Management Blog Roundup: The Mistake Bank

I don't know about you, but when I make a mistake, I tend to cringe and hope it doesn't get noticed. I have a strong preference for being perfect -- which is a recipe for failure.

If there is one thing I've learned from lean folks, it's that a mistake is something to learn from. In our ideal lean world, surfacing a problem will not bring blame upon me, but will result in some help in fixing and preventing it. But openness to mistakes is not a widespread attitude. Acknowledging and discussing them is not an everyday experience.

John Caddell, however, is changing that climate with his blog, The Mistake Bank. For my first episode of the John Hunter's Curious Cat Management Improvement Carnival Blog Roundup this year, I thought I'd share this blog with you.

In The Mistake Bank, John Caddell scans the book, video, and news world for stories people tell about their mistakes. Every few days, he finds an instructive reflection from people who learned important lessons from discovering they had been doing something the wrong way. John usually adds his own experiences or ideas about the excerpt he has given us (with permission, I might say).

One of my favorites is a quick one from Daniel Lubetzky, the founder of the snack food company, Kind. He started with a product, but no idea how the snack industry worked, particularly when it came to sales. But, he says, when he showed up to stores with his samples and was told to get lost, he took advantage of each mistake with his approach to his potential customer. He would not leave the store until the owner would teach him what he was doing wrong.

Another great find was a TED Talk by Kathryn Shulz on the importance of regret  She focuses on the inevitable emotional experience of regret, which can't be erased by our rational thinking about how did it happen and what can I do about it?

With The Mistake Bank, I get an email every few days that gives me the opportunity to spend a few minutes accepting that I have a few mistakes to reckon with, and the encouragement to go ahead and see if I can do something about them. Or I get to see how fallible everyone else is, including great leaders of industry who discover they also have feet of clay.

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