Food for Thought on Mistakes and Perfection


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I saw this quote the other day and tweeted it. It seemed like food for thought and something to reflect on for a new year. A Google search doesn't lead to a clear creator of this quote… it's a common thought that has been around a long time, I guess.

I've created my own graphic below in my blog's color scheme:

Making mistakes is better than faking perfection. Share on X

I hear people say all the time that they're “not ready for Lean” or their culture is “not ready for continuous improvement.”

Nobody's ever fully “ready” if they mean “we'll do this perfectly when we start.”

Nobody does. Everybody makes mistakes, especially when they start (which is the theme of our Practicing Lean e-Book).

We learn by making mistakes. It helps to have a qualified coach so we don't just make the same mistakes over and over again. We have to reflect, but not beat ourselves up for making mistakes.

In my experience and travels, the most effective Lean thinkers have a “learn it all” mindset, not a “know it all mindset.” I'm turned off by know-it-alls and those who think nobody else understands Lean (or whatever methodology).

Lean thinkers have what Carol Dweck calls a “growth mindset,” where we learn and grow through practice, as opposed to having a “fixed mindset,” which suggest certain skills or abilities are innate.

The “pursuit of perfection” doesn't mean we'll ever get there. Aiming for a Quixotic goal of perfection should mean that we're always learning and trying new things. Our attempts to learn and grow will sometimes bring failure and, while it might be painful at times, it's a necessary part of the improvement and development cycles.

What are some of your key improvement goals for 2017?

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Check out my latest book, The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation:

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


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