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Wrong is right


How can you tell if your organization is a learning organization? Or perhaps the question this year is, “Is yours an innovative organization?”

Here’s a one sentence test that will answer either question, “Are you allowed to make mistakes?”

If you can’t make, identify, and acknowledge mistakes, it is impossible to learn or innovate. Laurence Prusak of NASA makes the following observation:

If you pay a substantial price for being wrong, you are rarely going to risk doing anything new and different because novel ideas and practices have a good chance of failing, at least at first. So you will stick with the tried and true, avoid mistakes, and learn very little. … What would happen if we all accepted that being wrong is as much a part of being human as being right, and especially that errors are essential to learning and knowledge creation?

A great question! How do you and your organization handle errors and mistakes? To err is human. To intentionally go beyond the disappointment and embarrassment of a mistake is to intentionally seek learning and innovation, change and growth.

Out of the ordinary

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Great post, Kathleen. Being able to make a mistake is absolutely crucial to offering one’s all in life and in any organization. Once I made a blunder on email early in a new job. I was afraid to tell my boss, but I did. He invited me to join the human race instead of scolding me. Do you think I was loyal and committed to that job and that boss after that? You betcha.

    January 25, 2011
    • friesengroup #

      Shirley,
      An excellent example! Thanks for including a personal story.
      Kathleen

      January 25, 2011

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