Making mistakes at the executive level

As an organisation grows, it’s leaders increasingly feel the pressure of expectation, the expectation of stakeholders, customers and employees that they will make the right decisions. I think is may be a reason that large organisations tend to become more risk averse as they grow.

If they become risk averse, this may not necessarily result in a more secure outcome. The organization may become slow moving or worse.

Fletcher L Byron says that you should “Make sure you generate a reasonable number of mistakes. I know that comes naturally to some people, but too many executives are so afraid of error that they rigidity their organisation with checks and counterchecks, discourage innovation, and, in the end, so structure themselves that they will miss the kind of offbeat opportunity that can send a company skyrocketing. So take a look at your record, and if you can come to the end of the year and see that you haven’t made any mistakes, than I say, brother, you just haven’t tried everything you should have tried.”

Many highly successful leaders ignore conventional wisdom and take chances. Their stories inevitably include a defining moment or key decision when they took a significant risk and thereby experienced a breakthrough.

When people think of Apple Computer, perhaps they think of the excellent and successful iPhone, iPod and iPad products of today. Those in the industry remember that Apple made their share of mistakes in the past. steve Jobs says that “Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.”

So when should a decision be made? Perhaps when the “correct” amount of learning, research and preparations has been done? How much learning should be done before taking action? As Benjamin Franklin said, “By failing to prepare, you prepare to fail”.

Noone enjoys the embarrassment of making mistakes. The to key to overcoming this embarrassment is not avoiding making any mistakes, but having a system to learn from them and to continue to grow.

Jim Zabloski the business author indicates that failure is a teacher. He says he considers failure a necessity in business. “If you’re not failing five times a day, you’re probably not doing enough.”

He explains the process that failure can trigger when he said that “The more you do, the more you fail. The more you fail the more you learn. The more you learn the better you get. The operative word here is learn. If you repeat the same mistake two or three times, you are not learning from it. you must learn from your own mistakes and from the mistakes of others before you.”

Of course the other key is perseverance. We can’t let mistakes stop us. As Jobs says, “Sometimes life is going to hit you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith.”


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