Q: How strong is a chain with a broken link? A: Not strong at all.
The same holds true in large measure for any service organization. While the failure of one link in ten of service delivery is not catastrophic, the impact is far greater than the 10% that the one link represents. This is why quality-oriented supervisors, managers, and leaders focus on learning from every mistake and then ensuring that the entire organizations grasp the lessons learned.
The best learning organizations make a religious practice of conducting After Action Reviews (AAR): “a process for analyzing what happened, why it happened, how it can be done better by the participants and those responsible.” For those with an instinctive reaction to hide mistakes, it takes a bit of getting used to, this pulling errors out into the open, dissecting them like a physician conducting an autopsy. The analogy to autopsy is an apt one because both are searches for knowledge designed to learn how to create better outcomes.
Hiding mistakes is a great way to guarantee continued mediocrity. As Henry Ford said, “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” Thus, the learning organization has NO place for shame or blame, only recovery and responsibility. Mistakes have the power to turn us into something better than we were before.
“Mistakes are always forgivable if one has the courage to admit them.” – Bruce Lee, 1940-1973
“When you make a mistake, there are only three things you should ever do about it: admit it, learn from it, and don’t repeat it.” – Coach Paul Bear Bryant, 1913-1983
“Once we realize that imperfect understanding is the human condition, there is no shame in being wrong, only in failing to correct our mistakes.” – George Soros, b. 1930, net worth $8.3B (donated $32B to charity)
As always, I share what I most want and need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier