Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Owning mistakes

I've made lots of mistakes in my technology career, call them my battle scars. From when I was a junior developer (accidentally typing DEL *.* when I meant DIR *.*), to significant management mis-steps (under-investing in Infrastructure). They've shaped me, and made me a better manager. It's what people mean when they say they are "experienced" (now there's a euphamism!).

One thing I've learned is that making mistakes is a fact of business. It's unavoidable if you are pushing past norms, what we call "stretching". Trying not to make mistakes is not a good strategy, the outcome will be one of conservatism and negativity, and many IT departments are view this way.

I have a few simple rules about mistakes, for both me and my team:-
1) We are all allowed to make mistakes, no blame will be laid
2) Mistakes are an opportunity to learn
3) Get lots of opinions and input to mitigate against mistakes
4) Don't make the same mistake twice
5) Own the mistake

This last one is key, owning mistakes. There is incredible power in saying "we screwed up". Acceptance of mistakes is a key to conquering them. Some of the best leadership moments I've witnessed are around owning mistakes. I know I will follow somene who admits and owns their mistakes, and so will your teams.

1 comment:

Carol said...

You must be a great manager. Your teams are lucky -- and they surely know it!