Weekly Business Idea

October 27, 2017 – Are You Making Enough Mistakes?

Posted on | October 27, 2017 | No Comments

Main Idea:

Do you ever make a mistake?  Or at least one you will admit?  What is the culture in your business?  Does everyone own their mistakes?  Do people get hammered because they made a mistake?

Expansion of the Idea:

John Wooden, the legendary UCLA basketball coach, had a set of principles that he coached by.  One of them was “The team with the most mistakes wins.”  Or said another way, “The man who is afraid to risk failure seldom has to face success.”

Mistakes and failures are the building blocks in getting stronger and growing as a company and as a person.  Most of the time, we view mistakes as something we want to avoid at all costs.  However, there are really two different types of errors.

The first type of error is an operational error.  Examples would be sending the wrong merchandise to a customer, billing the wrong amount, or failure to return a phone call.  In my case it would be sending out a tax return in error.  These types of errors can seriously damage a business and need to be avoided.  Typically, hiring the right people, training them, and developing systems can minimize these errors.  They will still occur but they will be minimal and customers will accept the fact that you will occasionally make a mistake.  You just need to make sure that the mistake is addressed early and as proactively as possible.

The second type of error is a growth error.  These mistakes occur when you are trying something new.  This might be a new product line or service offering.  Or, it could be putting someone in a new position with significant amounts of additional responsibility.  Sometimes everything works perfectly.  However, most of the time there is a learning curve to a new position.  There will be some stumbles.  If you are developing a new product, there will be some mistakes.  If there are never any mistakes, then that normally means that you are not trying anything new.  In the current environment, we have to take some calculated risks.  Obviously, we want to minimize the risks.  But we can’t be afraid to make a mistake.  We will never move forward.

We have to try things.  And we have to encourage our team to try things.  When we go outside our comfort zone and fail or when we encourage our team members to try new things, there are a lot of benefits that we never would have received without this.  They include:

  • New products or developments
  • More creative workplace
  • Better problem-solving skills
  • More honesty
  • Development of our team
  • Growth mindset
  • Quicker resolution of operational errors
  • Better internal culture
  • Closer to our customers

There are probably 100 more benefits that I did not identify.  The point is that as we try to grow and do new things, we will make mistakes but we will learn from them.  They will allow us to reach places that we otherwise could never have reached unless we tried something that we could fail at.  And in the meantime, we are creating workplaces that attract people and serve our customers.  That is a pretty good outcome for making mistakes.

Here are some specific steps to consider:

  1. Make a list of the last 5 mistakes you personally made.
  2. Label them as either operational or growth.
  3. For all of the operational mistakes, have systems or training been performed to minimize those mistakes in the future?
  4. For the growth errors, what have you learned?
  5. Share with your team.
  6. Have your team do steps 1-5 above.  Discuss.


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    These weekly ideas are brought to you by FitzGerald & FitzGerald P.C. For more information about how to use these ideas with your small business contact Tim FitzGerald at trfitz@fitz-net.com.