“How a company deals with mistakes suggests how well it will bring out the best ideas and talents of its people, and how effectively it will respond to change.” – Bill Gates
As a first time founder, I have made numerous mistakes. Each of these mistakes has resulted in wasted resources and wasted time. However, each mistake has also taught me something new.
Whenever someone is doing something new, they will inevitability make mistakes as they are operating with imperfect information. This is ok – in making mistakes, one learns and develops a better understanding of how things work. However, the mistake is only justified if one actually learns from it.
This series of posts, called Celebrating Mistakes, analyzes some of the mistake we have made at Quill and what we have learned from those mistakes. Let’s continue to make mistakes, celebrate those mistakes, and continue learning.
In the words of W. Edwards Deming:
Many employees are afraid to ask questions or take a position, even when they do not understand what the job is or whether is right or wrong. People will continue to do things the wrong way, or not do them at all. The economic loss from fear is appalling.
People must feel secure for better quality and productivity. Getting people to feel more secure to make mistakes requires all of us to be vulnerable and open, so we will eliminate acts of denial and blaming others. It requires solid ownership of any and all outcomes, so people won’t hide the mistakes or evidence that identify where errors were made and by whom.
Leaders must communicate and acknowledge that if a company truly wants to be progressive and innovative, mistakes will be a natural by-product of such a strategy. We need to be more open and transparent about mistakes, share what we’ve learned, and figure out how, if possible, to prevent these in the future. We also need to encourage continual learning and development along the journey.