Monday, January 24, 2011

Is failure an option at your organization?

What happens if you fail at something you try at work? I once made a $5 million error (on paper, thank goodness, not in actual dollars; but still!). I called a favorite professor and asked him if he thought I should resign. He told me the story of a man who lost a million dollar client. When the man went to his company president, hat and resignation letter in hand, his enlightened president responded, "You can't leave! I just spent a million dollars on your education!"But what if failure in your organization isn't an option (and you can tell by the way leaders respond to those who've erred in the past)? What does the organization lose by disallowing errors?

How would your boss respond if you lost a million dollar client, or made a $5 million error?

What would you say or do if your direct report made a huge error (assuming he or she admits it quickly and offers solutions)?

And, what are the likely outcomes of different responses?

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