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The power of error inside a team


Source: jdurham

We learn from our mistakes, right? Error brings knowledge, and knowledge is valuable. Therefore, error is valuable!

Why are people so afraid of making mistakes?

  1. Afraid of what people will think;
  2. Do not want to face the consequences;
  3. Imagine the worst that can happen and want to prevent it;
  4. Do not want to disappoint;
  5. etc.

Ground rule

It’s important to value errors, especially inside a team, and it should be a ground rule right from the start. By doing so, teammates will feel better overall when they are working, and when they make a mistake, they will be able to concentrate on how to fix it, and prevent it in the future instead of focusing on what the team will think of them. The result is a team that works together instead of pointing fingers.

Make it clear

It’s important to clarify what’s expected of the team towards mistakes. For example, some errors may be caused by taking risks, taking those risks may be outside what’s tolerated amongst the team; we want to accept mistakes but we want to avoid people taking unnecessary risks. Here, the rule could be simply that before taking that risk, it must be discussed and if the team decides to take the risk, the mistake will be shared with the whole team.

Lessons learned

Those mistakes may be tiny, but may also have a large impact. The knowledge gained from that mistake becomes a lesson learned out of your project, and it’s important to communicate it to the whole team and other colleagues that may face the same problem, you may save them tons of time (and money!).

It’s important when discussing lessons learned that you focus on :

  1. why it happened
  2. what was done to fix it
  3. what must be done in the future to prevent it

Also, avoid pointing fingers at all cost, talking about it must make everyone feel like they learned something and not that they messed up (that’s the hard part).

A simple way of preventing accusations is always talking about what the team did and not what one person did in particular. For example, instead of ‘Joe used a new script that created a bug’, we could say ‘We used a new script that created a bug’. Simple!

Practice makes perfect

It may seem hard at first to look at an error as a good thing, even more to have the whole team thinking like that, but as each project is done and mistakes are made, if the focus is on the knowledge gained and the team are working together to fix errors, then people will be more and more comfortable and will work even better together.

In conclusion, accept mistakes

For many of you, it’s going to be hard, but work on it. Mistakes are alright, accept them, learn from them, and the knowledge you will gain will help you grow in all aspects of your life.┬áPeople will notice more how to get up after a fall than the fall itself!

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