Embracing Failure Does Not Mean Embracing Mistakes

social fish
social fish

Jamie wrote a piece referencing one of the great (and unexpected) takeaways from our Blogworld New York session on Humanize.   In the book, we cite NTEN as one of our shining examples of a truly human organization.  The intel Amy Sample Ward shared as our panelist was REALLY AWESOME, even more than I thought it would be, so much so that we plan to create a whole new case study series of posts about it either here on SocialFishing or over on Get Me Jamie Notter.  She showed us how NTEN views authenticity, experimentation, guiding principles, transparency, and a whole lot more.

Here’s an excerpt from his post, specifically about NTEN’s embracing of a learning culture:

 If we fail at something, it will fuel learning, which will enable us to do it better next time. Failure is good.

But during the session, someone asked Amy a question about NTEN being comfortable with making mistakes, and Amy was quick to jump in and clarify. “We don’t define failures and mistakes the same way,” she said. A mistake is when you do something wrong, even though you knew the right way to do it. Failure is when you are trying something new, and you don’t know ahead of time how to make it successful. A typo in a conference brochure is a mistake. It’s not like you didn’t know how to spell the word correctly. NTEN is not “comfortable” with mistakes as it is with failures. They work very hard to eliminate mistakes. (Though I doubt they are the kind of place to ruthlessly punish people for making mistakes either.)

But they are okay with failure. They love to learn from what they are doing. They recognize that if you don’t fail some of the time, then you aren’t pushing hard enough. You aren’t growing. Eliminating failure would mean doing ONLY what you already know how to do. You don’t grow that way.

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