On mistakes

Humans make mistakes. As you venture on a new journey you increase uncertainty and reduce the usability of prior knowledge and experiences. More often than not this increases the amount of mistakes you make. Thus mistakes are often a proxy of risk. It should never be the goal to make mistakes, but mistakes are inevitable for the development of anything slightly different from the well-known.

Most mistakes could be avoided. If you spend sufficient time understanding everyone and everything, then you are likely to be better equipped at avoiding mistakes. However, plans not only inform you, they form you. When you plan to turn right, you rarely turn left. And plans cost time, resources and energy, and are based upon rules of the past. Thus, avoiding mistakes is quite a mistake.

Contrary, one should never mistaken mistakes for laziness, cheating or in-capabilities. It is everyone’s task to stay informed and do an honest work. If you once find yourself in a situation where you are deliberately doing something wrong or cutting corners you ought to come clean. Here it doesn’t matter whether it is due to the lack of skills, lust or time. Without admitting to your shortcomings, you won’t get the support needed for doing the job well.

It is the hard task of managers to nurture an environment where mistakes and shortcomings are openly shared. Faced with a mistake the immediate response is often to question the process and groundwork in search for the cause of the mistake. Discovering the cause of the mistake can be tremendously helpful to avoid future mistakes. After all, this is often how we learn. However, using causation to place liability won’t nurture an environment of trust. Even less so when the manager does so to show his employees and superiors that he is not responsible for the mistake.

You are always responsible for the mistake, and that is completely okay.