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Great post Jim. You may want to check out the book "How We Decide" - it focuses a lot on the issue of how the brain actually uses mistakes as the guidelines for future good decisions. Without the mistakes we don't know boundaries and don't challenge them. It's a great read.

Thanks, Paul. You are right. You can't drive far with your eyes closed.

Lovely post! And so true that we tend to reward for crisis management rather than crisis avoidance. With the obvious consequences...

A thoughtful piece, Jim - and right to the point as usual. The best practical line I caught was "It can be hoped . . ." in terms of management being able to accept mistakes. Because therein lies the rub, a management culture where they shoot the messenger, mistakes are not forgotten and he who risks and loses gets a black mark in their file.

I can only wish that more people in management would read your piece. Because maybe that might change a negative culture, to the betterment of the company and the employees.

To combine your two great points, those who successfully navigate crises tend to be well rewarded, while those who are swamped by the crisis wave are punished or denigrated; yet, how can one prepare to deal with the cresting wave without the learning experience that only comes with mistakes? Ironic, that those who survive the most mistakes are better able to deal with future problems than those who have simply been sheltered or lucky.


I loved your post. I loved the Cleese video too. Too many managers demand perfection and therefore only end up with perfect mediocrity.

At 6'5", Cleese is certainly one you have to look up to. I loved to paraphrase his description of the abusive hotelier who inspired his Fawlty Towers role, by saying, "I could run HR just fine. if it weren't for the employees."

Wonderful observation, that great success only follows a long prior string of "mistakes." If you discourage mistakes, you supress high achievment.

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