An Inadvertent Lean Role Model?

FOXNews.com – Mystery Celebrity Link

You’ll have to click on the above link to see who said the following (the link is from Fox News and is absolutely safe for work, for those who are not trusting the link).

“‘I’m going to make mistakes and I wouldn’t trade that for anything because I always say the minute you stop making mistakes is the minute you stop learning,'”

Ok, I’m not a fan or follower of this particular celebrity, I happened to stumble upon this quote on TV this past weekend.

She certainly didn’t mean it as Lean wisdom, but it reminded me of a lot of Kaizen philosophy… that we learn by making mistakes and that cultures of “naming, shaming, and blaming” get in the way of individual and organizational learning, particularly in healthcare (or any other large organization).

Similar thoughts from yesterday’s NY Times and an interview with the eBay CEO:

I didn’t know it at the time, but I was suffering from a real fear of failure. Kent said, “You know, John, your challenge is you’re trying to bat .900.” And he said: “When you were in college, you got a lot of A’s. You could get 90, 95 percent right. When you took your first job as an analyst, you were really successful and felt like you were batting .900.”

But he said, and this is probably five years into my career: “Now you’ve moved from the minor leagues. You’re playing in the major leagues, and if you expect to bat .900, what happens is, either you come up at bat and you freeze because you’re so afraid of swinging and missing, or you’re a little afraid to step into the batter’s box.”

He said, “Best I can tell, the best hitters in Major League Baseball, world class, they can strike out 6 times out of 10 and still be the greatest hitter of all time.”

And he said, “That’s my philosophy — the key is to get up in that batter’s box and take a swing. And all you have to do is hit one single, a couple of doubles, and an occasional home run out of every 10 at-bats, and you’re going to be the best hitter or the best business leader around.” You can’t play in the major leagues without having a lot of failures.

Norman Bodek has a great talk on how we learn to be afraid of failure… it starts in 1st grade, when we start getting letter grades. On a related note, stay tuned for an upcoming series of video podcasts with Norman (to be also released in audio-only mode in the audio podcast series).

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Mark Graban's passion is creating a better, safer, more cost effective healthcare system for patients and better workplaces for all. Mark is a consultant, author, and speaker in the "Lean healthcare" methodology. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent project is an eBook titled Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also the VP of Improvement & Innovation Services for the technology company KaiNexus.

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