Scared to take a risk
Sunday 13 September 1998
This attitude amounts to what is generally known as "the blame culture". In many organisations - even some of those that are trying to present themselves to the world as "learning organisations" - this can be so powerful that individuals feel compelled to avoid risk in everything they do.
And yet even in situations like that, mistakes are made. The fascination of hearing how things can go wrong was part of the motivation behind The Independent on Sunday column "My Biggest Mistake". The column proved so popular that it became the basis of a book, and now a team of consultants from Pearn Kandola, the occupational psychologists, has used it in testing the extent to which we can learn from mistakes.
Their book, Ending the Blame Culture, argues that companies do not have to be stuck in this trap. Instead, Michael Pearn, Chris Mulrooney and Tim Payne claim that they can escape the blame cultures that create stagnation through conformity and risk avoidance, and produce "gain cultures" where mistakes are tolerated and even encouraged as a way of pursuing innovation, change and improvement.
In the book they repeat a statement made by Soichoro Honda, the head of Honda, about success representing "the 1 per cent of work which results from the 99 per cent that is called failure". Similarly, the president of an American steel mill is quoted as saying: "You've got to have an atmosphere where people can make mistakes. If we're not making mistakes, we're not going anywhere."
Mr Pearn and his colleagues take care to make a distinction between "undesirable mistakes and intelligent mistakes". The challenge facing individuals is to understand what lies behind mistakes and to prevent their recurrence.
- 1 The truth about 'girl things': Three cheers for Heather Watson's honesty
- 2 Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
- 5 Men behaving badly: Urinating while standing, 'manspreading' and the gendering of selfishness
Nigel Farage: NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
George Galloway condemns 'racist, Islamophobic, hypocritical rag' Charlie Hebdo at freedom of speech rally
Islamic history is full of free thinkers - but recent attempts to suppress critical thought are verging on the absurd
iJobs Money & Business
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Tax Assistant is required to join a leading ...
£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£45000 - £47000 per annum + bonus + benefits: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / ...
£35000 - £38000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Marke...