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Six Ways to Make Better Mistakes

March 29, 2015

What do Scotchgard, safety glass and Slinkys have in common?

401px-WTC_Mattley_013You’re right – they each resulted from mistakes.

Innovation experts encourage learning from mistakes as a catalyst for creative discoveries.  But, practically speaking, how can you make them more helpful than harmful?

Here are a few ways to make better mistakes.

Define smart risks.  Where is it OK to learn through experimentation  (during development phases, for example) and where is it not (when complying with regulations)?

Approach new ventures as pilots. Test early stage prototypes and make refinements based on your results.  Repeat.  This adaptive approach corrects missteps earlier (when they’re less expensive), evolving a more informed final result.

Be specific about what the mistake was and what you learned.  Resisting the temptation to generalize can help you make incisive course corrections.

Identify where a lack of mistakes could hold you back.  Mistakes reveal assumptions that need to be updated, refreshing mindsets as well as skill sets.

Tea_bowl_fixed_in_the_Kintsugi_methodPerseverate productively.  Whenever you recall a mistake, think about the lessons learned.  You’ve had the experience, so ingrain the value.

Craft a positive narrative that shares their value – mistakes tend to make great stories.  Wabi Sabi is an aesthetic that celebrates imperfection, its artisans highlight cracks by filling them with gold.

What are some other ways you could wabi sabi your mistakes?

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