Good Mistakes: All Mistakes Are Not Created Equal!

Do you (or your organization) have permission to make mistakes?

Your answer to this question not only reveals your risk tolerance, but likely provides insights into your personality and innovative abilities as well. In a recent workshop with some great staff of the SoCal Ronald McDonald Houses, a key theme was the reality of constant and ongoing organizational change. Working in an organization in flux is challenging. But the increasing pace of societal change means that constant flux is the new normal.

Constant change means that mistakes are more likely to occur. So how can we teach our staff to be happy and healthy amidst change? Furthermore, how can we help them make mistakes that matter? Eduardo Briceno has published a very helpful model which we can use to help employees understand good and bad mistakes. 

This model is effectively simple so I’ll bet you are already drawing your own lessons from it. However, let me illustrate three points to help equip us with reminders about change and mistakes:

  1. No matter the mistake, the learning opportunity is always high! One of my contracts recently dropped the ball and forgot to complete a task by a stated deadline. This mistake cascaded to about 20 other people who were unable to do their work as a result of this error. However, the apology email I received the next day was impressive. The individual owned the problem (on behalf of one of her staff), outlined the root causes and went on to explain three things she was doing to both fix the problem and keep it happening again! I often tell people that I don’t mind mistakes. However, I do mind how people respond to mistakes. When we own, fix and learn from mistakes, we become better as people and as organizations.
  2. Sloppy mistakes can be minimized. Sloppy mistakes happen because our intentionality is low. Stated more simply, sloppy mistakes happen because we don’t care (or forget to care). Repeated sloppy mistakes are often the sign of a disengaged or under-skilled employee. We all get sloppy, but repeated sloppy is a big red flag!
  3. We need to teach and coach our team members differently based on the type of mistake they make. Stretch mistakes should be praised, high stakes mistakes should be thoroughly debriefed (often in ways where others can learn these expensive lessons as well) and ‘aha’ moment mistakes need forums in which to be shared. As my title states, all mistakes are not equal. Wise leaders will identify the type of mistake made and then ensure that their response to mistakes matches the need. And in the midst of a busy-work day, this takes intentionality.

Good teams have leaders who give them permission to make mistakes. Excellent teams have leaders who help their team dig deeper and understand the type of mistake they made, and how they can leverage it into something that will benefit both them and the organization.

After all, pobody’s nerfect!

Head ShotDr. Jeff Suderman is a futurist, consultant, and professor who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman Email:

Source: Mindset Works

The Class of 2021 – 30 Things You Need To Know

Each fall, I provide Beloit College’s overview about the incoming class of college freshmen. This year’s list is a bit different for me as these attributes reflect the mindsets of students born in 1999. This is the birth year of our firstborn son who began his Computer Science program last week. So if you are getting to be an old guy like me, today’s blog may be more than just facts!

I have edited Beloit’s list to 30 items. The complete list can be accessed at the link above.

  1. Their classmates could include Eddie Murphy’s Zola and Mel Gibson’s Tommy, or Jackie Evancho singing down the hall.
  2. They are the last class to be born in the 1900s, the last of the Millennials —  enter next year, on cue, Generation Z! (though this may be disputed by some who would state that Gen Z began graduating from University last spring).
  3. They are the first generation for whom a “phone” has been primarily a video game, direction finder, electronic telegraph, and research library.
  4. Electronic signatures have always been as legally binding as the pen-on-paper kind.
  5. In college, they will often think of themselves as consumers, who’ve borrowed a lot of money to be there.
  6. Peanutscomic strips have always been repeats.
  7. They have largely grown up in a floppy-less world.
  8. There have always been emojis to cheer us up.
  9. It is doubtful that they have ever used or heard the high-pitched whine of a dial-up modem.
  10. They are the first generation to grow up with Watson outperforming Sherlock.
  11. Amazon has always invited consumers to follow the arrow from A to Z.
  12. Their folks have always been able to get reward points by paying their taxes to the IRS on plastic.
  13. In their lifetimes, Blackberryhas gone from being a wild fruit to being a communications device to becoming a wild fruit again.
  14. They have always been searching for Pokemon.
  15. Dora the Explorerand her pet monkey Boots helped to set them on the course of discovery.
  16. By the time they entered school, laptops were outselling desktops.
  17. Once on campus, they will find that college syllabi, replete with policies about disability, non-discrimination, and learning goals, might be longer than some of their reading assignments.
  18. As toddlers they may have dined on some of that canned food hoarded in case of Y2K.
  19. Whatever the subject, there’s always been a blog for it.
  20. Globalization has always been both a powerful fact of life and a source of incessant protest.
  21. One out of four major league baseball players has always been born outside the United States.
  22. A movie scene longer than two minutes has always seemed like an eternity.
  23. The Latin music industry has always had its own Grammy Awards.
  24. As toddlers, they may have taught their grandparents how to Skype.
  25. The BBC has always had a network in the U.S. where they speak American.
  26. There has always been a Monster in their corner when looking for a job.
  27. Wikipedia has steadily gained acceptance by their teachers.
  28. Justin Timberlake has always been a solo act.
  29. Women have always scaled both sides of Everest and rowed across the Atlantic.
  30. Bill Clinton has always been Hillary Clinton’s aging husband.

Head Shot

Jeff Suderman is a futurist, consultant, and professor who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman Email:


Source: Beloit