Friday, January 20, 2012

Lean Quote: Leaders Learn From Their Mistakes

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.

"Mistakes are the usual bridge between inexperience and wisdom." — Phyllis Therous

Mistakes are unavoidable in life and leaders certainly make their share of them. Any time you look to break new ground or technologies or whatever it is you are leading, you open up many new avenues for mistakes and they are inevitable with change. You can’t have one without the other and so learning to use mistakes well is an important leadership trait.

Leaders must also be a leader in this area and actually admit your own mistakes. Admit when you were wrong, and emphasize what you have learned from it and what your next steps are work around that mishap. If you encourage and set the example of owning up to mistakes quickly and working past them, you can quickly inspire your followers to do the same and look at the value of the mistakes instead of hiding from them.

Learning from mistakes clearly needs some analysis of the mistake itself to gain value from it. Here are a few steps to use to analyze a mistake quickly and efficiently:

  1. Accept that it happened and can’t be changed.
  2. Know there is always something to learn from it.
  3. Look to understand it and the factors that caused it.
  4. How could you have recognized the mistake earlier?
  5. How can you avoid the mistake next time?
  6. Are there similar things that might have a related mistake to avoid?
  7. What has changed now to ensure that mistake doesn’t reoccur?
  8. Who else should know about this and learn from it?

When you focus on the improvements and lessons learned from a mistake you reinforce the ability to make mistakes part of the process and something that is accepted as long as it improves things. There is no value in worrying about the mistake or dwelling on it after it is done. So, move on!



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