Make mistakes faster!
There are “above the line” mistakes and “below the line” mistakes. The latter threaten to sink the ship, while the former do not. This is according to Bill Gore, founder of Gore-Tex. Above-the-line mistakes show that managers are willing to experiment, think and challenge, while the below-the-line mistakes bring on disaster. But Gore tells his people that it is their responsibility to know where the water line is. It doesn’t mean risks shouldn’t be taken, but that they should be considered very carefully and taken only after everyone who might be affected is consulted. After all, risk and reward go hand-in-hand.
We often confuse the two types of mistakes. We react to minor slips as if they are huge blunders and we give equal weight to small above-the-line errors and major below-the-line ones. The result of this is that we fear making any mistake because we view them all as catastrophes. We need to aim for excellence and not perfection. We need to put aside the idea of flawlessness. It’s not, as the adage says, failure that’s not an option—it’s perfectionism. That doesn’t mean we don’t strive to be the best we can be, but we must expect to fall and fail and come up short—and keep trying.
Seer Analytics President, Bill Lazarus says all of his employees know that the company mantra in time past was “make new mistakes!” This year it’s “make mistakes faster!” The rationale behind this thinking is that if you are making mistakes early and often – then your cost of entry into a new marketplace decreases overtime and sustaining market share becomes easier.
Bill Gates maintains, “Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.” If you believe you can’t make a mistake, then you can’t learn. Everyone gets better if they are appropriately questioned and challenged. We need to go back to our roots, or at least to kindergarten, where we were told that we need to make mistakes in order to learn—and we actually believed it
Are you and your staff making enough mistakes to succeed?