Friday, October 2, 2020

Lean Quote: Learn From Your Mistakes With A Postmortem

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.


"A failure is not always a mistake. It may simply be the best one can do under the circumstances. The real mistake is to stop trying.  — B.F. Skinner (1904-1990), American psychologist

No one is immune to making mistakes – we are human, after all! But if we simply apologize and carry on as before, we're in danger of repeating the same errors. 


Stop beating yourself up, pause for a moment to reflect, and start thinking about how you can gain from the situation. 


When you've acknowledged your mistake, think about what you could do to prevent it from happening again. Ask yourself the following questions: 


What was I trying to do? 

What went wrong? 

When did it go wrong? 

Why did it go wrong? 


5 Whys is a straightforward yet powerful tool for identifying the causes of simple or moderately difficult problems. To use it, start with the error and keep asking "Why?" until you get to the root cause. 


Conducting this "postmortem" should reveal what led to the mistake, and highlight what needs to change in order to avoid a repeat. 


If you have a "growth" mindset, you likely see mistakes as an opportunity to improve, and not as something that you are doomed to repeat because your mindset is "fixed" on the belief that you can't improve. 


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