"If you are not making a mistake, it's a mistake." Miles Davis. According to the author in Chapter 3 of "Yes to the Mess" organizations, just like in jazz, need to create an "aesthetic of imperfection" by encouraging brave experimentation. He says what if we measure performance not only on normal standards of success, but also on risk taking and purposeful engagement in an activity? Then organizations could leverage mistakes as a point of creative departure, allowing people to see details they might have otherwise missed. He argues that companies such as Google, Apple, and Microsoft had many failures along the way to building up their most innovative products (iPhone, Microsoft Access, and Google Video). Barrett continues to say that the failures were what allowed the ideas to incubate and the organizations valued innovation and creativity enough to allow those types of failures to occur learning from them.
So for leaders it is critical to ensure that people learn from their mistakes instead of hiding them or glossing over them. Leaders need to create environments where employees can feel safe enough to talk about their mistakes. Often this occurs by leveling status differences and allowing conversations about mistakes to happen at all levels of the organization. For example to get jazz right Barrett says, "musicians must surrender their conscious striving. They do this by deliberately facing unfamiliar challenges, by developing provocative learning relationships, and by creating incremental disruptions hat demand experimentation and risk." Through this risk taking we can lean into full engagement and truly live a meaningful life. This is the same in business and in organizations.
Where are you willing to take risks? Are you creating an organization which is open to making and discussing mistakes? What can you learn from them?
Monica Thakrar has over 18 years experience in business focused mainly on strategy, change management, leadership development, training and coaching resulting in successful implementations of large scale transformation programs.