Most of us work in companies marked by organizational structure, policies
and procedures, and thick, heavily documented strategic plans. In today's
modern organization these elements of corporate life are necessary. They
help us remain headed in the right direction, focused on the work at
hand, and completing that work with the highest quality possible.
And yet we lose something as we adhere, sometimes blindly, to both rules
and traditions. Now don't get me wrong. I am all for (reasonable) rules.
And traditions many times anchor us and provide a sense of belonging
to something bigger than ourselves. What I worry about, however, is at
the heart of the quotation from Thomas Edison. In his wonderful book
of quotations titled "Worth Remembering", author and futurist
David Zach (www.davidzach.com) notes that entrepreneurs just don't get
the concept of failure. So as Edison states, he has just discovered what
does not work, not that the problem he is working on cannot be solved.
Zach goes on to state: "George Bernard Shaw had said that progress
depends on the unreasonable. It does not. Progress depends on the entrepreneur." So
how do we capture this entrepreneurial spirit that will not countenance
failure and harness that persistence and love of learning that seems
to infect our most successful entrepreneurs?
In a structured organization too often we punish mistakes, rather than
using them as "teachable moments." Yes, we are working to
produce high quality products, or deliver services that exceed our customers'
expectations, but can't we do that without creating a corporate culture
that is so compliance oriented that we lose sight of the benefits of
learning from our mistakes? Changing the culture of an organization is
a huge task. But an effort to address this issue can begin with you -
when one of your employees has a "failure" resist the temptation
to scold, punish, or chastise. Rather, approach it as Edison might have:
OK that didn't work. Why didn't it? What can we learn from this? What
changes can we make to do better next time? And perhaps the question
that we always need to be going back to in order to remind us why we
are here in the first place: Why is doing this better important to our
Having challenged you to think about changing what you do and how you
do it (and by extension how your organization approaches this type of
change given its prevailing culture), let me leave you with perhaps my
all time favorite quotation:
"Never doubt that a small group
of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is
the only thing that ever has."
- Margaret Mead
Provided Courtesy of:
Maxwell & Associates
1012 Embassy Row Way | Seabrook Island, SC 29455-6005 | Voice 843-768-2227
| Fax 843-768-2170 | Rich@MaxwellCoaching.com