Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Learning from failure (or failing to learn)















Most people would regard Honda as a successful company. Their vehicles are regarded as the most reliable on the road. However it is not commonly known that this success is grounded in failure. In fact it depends on it. The most interesting thing about this video is hearing the leaders at Honda talk about encouraging radical innovation and not penalising failure, as long as it leads to improved understanding and consequent improvement

Whilst most organisations have had outright failures or 'near misses', they are too often swept under the carpet or not mentioned. In some cases processes may have quietly changed, in others they are still at risk of repeating the problem.

We know that some of the most valuable learning comes from looking at things that did not go as expected or failed. Not a 'drains up' or blame-seeking, but a rational examination of root-causes and seeking to change processes in the future, to avoid repeating the problem.

The issues around this are as much emotional as procedural. Nobody likes to be associated with 'failure'. It takes a brave project manager to flag something that did not go as planned to ensure their colleagues benefit from that experience. The airline industry is a great example where the culture has changed radically and many lives saved as a result.

The KIN Winter workshop on 2nd December will look at examples of learning from failure and failing to learn. We will have a mixture of learning activities (and yes some will be designed to fail!), expert speakers and case-studies from member organisations.
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