missteps as crippling rather than as sources of innovation Only in Silicon

Missteps as crippling rather than as sources of

This preview shows page 10 - 11 out of 12 pages.

missteps as crippling rather than as sources of innovation. Only in Silicon Valley, perhaps, do people wear their failures with pride.34The “blame” culture that permeates most organiza-tions paralyzes decision makers so much that they don’t take chances and they sweep missteps under the rug. Many companies don’t learn and adapt fast enough from missteps, as we saw with Black-berry, Nokia and Microsoft in their early responses to the iPhone. To help a team learn faster, leaders must (1) frame mistakes as valuable learning opportunities; (2) re-spond to failure as temporary, isolated and not personal;35and (3) emphasize that learning from a decision is a goal in itself. In the U.S. and Israeli militaries, after-action debriefs have become the norm.36Debriefing in the Israeli military is so highly valued that everyone is graded on this skill, including their ability to create a climate that accepts mistakes as natural and a source for learning. This background training has spread beyond the military to Israel’s venture com-munity. Nearly all entrepreneurs in Israel have served in the military, since such service is manda-tory for both men and women. These shared experiences, especially tolerance for failure and after-action reviews, have helped Israel become a technological innovation hub.37Tips and Pointers 1. Shine a light on mistakes as sources of new learning. Blakely of Spanx grew up in a home where her parents admired her for trying and failing. She incorporates this view into her lead-ership philosophy.2. Conduct after-action reviews to extract in-sights. Define mistakes and successes in terms of process rather than outcomes. Teach team mem-bers to ask questions that elicit learning rather than defensiveness.3. Publicize stories about failed projects that led to innovative solutions. Praise those who learned from their errors and try to extract learn-ing from near misses. Start With Questions — Not AnswersTypically, we don’t judge leaders on the quality of their questions, nor do we design our educational systems or corporate training to develop this cru-cial skill. If anything, we do the opposite. Television game shows reward contestants who know answers to preset questions — and usually very trivial ques-tions at that. Having encyclopedic knowledge may win you a million dollars on a TV game show or yield good grades in school, but it won’t necessarily make you successful in today’s complex business world. In changing environments, the big prizes go to those who ask better questions and learn faster. In organizations, this comes down to leaders teach-ing and coaching others to think more strategically and ask deeper questions. If you think like everyone else, you are likely to be average. The best strategic thinkers, leaders and entrepreneurs distinguish themselves by how they frame decisions, the kinds of questions they ask and their mode of inquiry.38Paul J.H. Schoemakeris research director of the William and Phyllis Mack Institute for Innovation
Background image
Image of page 11

You've reached the end of your free preview.

Want to read all 12 pages?

  • Fall '16
  • Rania Nafea
  • Management, Decision Making, MIT Sloan School of Management, MIT Sloan Management Review, Sloan Management Review, MIT Sloan Management

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture