I loved a recent New York Times article about Chef Gordon Ramsay, including this part:
“Ramsay said that when he makes a mistake, he owns up to it. He has been candid about the misjudgments that led to the closure of Amaryllis, his fine dining restaurant in Glasgow, and admits that he has opened restaurants that were “badly conceptualized” or opened in the wrong area. “You should never be embarrassed of failure,” he said. “But never make the same mistake twice.”
That's easier said than done. It's one thing to mistake-proof a process in manufacturing or healthcare. There might be a clearer root cause to be addressed through mistake-proofing countermeasures.
But when we've made a bad decision, how do we ensure that we're learning and not repeating the mistake. If we've “badly conceptualized” a restaurant (or some other business), we need to learn instead of giving up. Not trying again is one way to never make that same mistake again, but I'm sure that's NOT what Ramsay means.
Many of my guests on the “My Favorite Mistake” podcast have told stories about not making the same business mistake twice. One who comes to mind was a chiropractor, Kelly Henry, who failed with his first practice, but became very successful the second time, thanks to lessons learned from that first attempt.
As I shared in my book, The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation, I think this set of reflection questions can be helpful (and I credit the firm Value Capture for teaching me this).
- What decision did I make?
- What did I expect to happen?
- What actually happened?
- What do I learn from the gap?
- What would I do differently?
- What would I expect to happen?
As I wrote in the book, “Answering those questions helps us focus on learning from mistakes instead of shaming ourselves or others for them.”
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