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Sunday, December 15, 2013


Some of us work in organizations in which it is not safe to make mistakes.  It’s not that mistakes are not made, they’re just hidden, often in very ingenious ways.  These are the organizations that foster distrust, that feel tense, that inhibit the free flow of communications, that squelch transparency.  They’re also the organizations that serve their customers, both the internal ones and the external ones, abysmally.  These are dying organizations (though they often don’t know it yet).

Some of us get to work in organizations that make it safe to make mistakes (as long as it’s not the same mistake repeated again and again).   Mistakes are understood to be the natural derivative of effort, of pushing boundaries, of trying something beyond what is “required.”  These organizations feel collegial.  They foster collaboration.  They invite the sharing of lessons learned.   They inculcate full disclosure and engender trust.  And, they tend to freely own their mistakes and make them right.  They also happen to be the ones with the most energized employees (internal customers) and satisfied external customers. 

I’ve worked in both kinds. 

I work in the latter kind now, and won’t work in the former version again.  Life is simply too short for that.

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