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Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Book Review: The Mistakes That Make Us

We all make mistakes. That’s what makes us human but do we learn from them and how do they shape us to be who we are.

We all have a choice about how we react to our mistakes. We can ignore them and likely keep repeating or we can admit to them, think about what we expected to happen, and learn where we went wrong.

The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation written by Mark Graban dives into embracing and learning from mistakes and fostering a culture of learning and innovation.

I’ve known Mark for many years and this has been a passionate topic for a long time.  I follow him online especially the podcast series My Favorite Mistake which led to this book. He has authored many tremendous contributions regarding Lean and continuous improvement so when this came out it was on my must-read list.

The book is filled with relatable real life stories of many types of people in many different roles who have made mistakes and learned from them. He has organized them into 7 lessons. Each lesson overlaps and feeds into the next lesson.

Lesson 1 - Admit mistakes quickly and honestly. Coach, don't punish, those who report mistakes and use the knowledge you've gained to coach others so a mistake isn't repeated.

Lesson 2 - Be kind. Not the same as nice, kindness is less about forgiving and more about using mistakes as learning opportunities.

Lesson 3 - Prevent mistakes. As a lean student poke yoke is always in my mind. Once you learn use systems to prevent mistakes from reoccurring.

Lesson 4 - Help everyone speak up. This requires a culture change. But this really starts with those you lead.

Lesson 5 - Improve don't punish. Hiding rather than learning from mistakes out of fear is one of the biggest mistakes.

Lesson 6 - Iteration. In order to innovate and create something new you must iterate to see what works and doesn't work. Reminds me of the practice of coaching kata.

Lesson 7 - Cultivate forever. Don't try to emulate someone else. Use your desire to learn and coach up and down to drive through the organization.

In the book, you'll find practical guidance on adopting a positive mindset towards mistakes. It teaches you to acknowledge and appreciate them, working to prevent them while gaining knowledge from the ones that occur. Additionally, it emphasizes creating a safe environment to express mistakes and encourages responding constructively by emphasizing learning over punishment.

The Mistakes That Make Us is a must-read for anyone looking to create a stronger organization that produces better results, including lower turnover, more improvement and innovation, and better bottom-line performance. This book will inspire you to lead with kindness and humility and show you how learning from mistakes can make things right.

I really enjoyed learning from others’ mistakes and the positive lessons that came from them. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to change their perspective and their life for the better by cherishing the mistakes we make.

Note: The author, Mark Graban, provided an advance copy for the purpose of reviewing.

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