Talking About Failure

Cory Banks has been talking on actKM about a project where he wants to share lessons learned through anecdotes about examples and incidents – I suppose to communicate the contexts where learning took place. One of the challenges in such cases is how to get the stories about failures (perceived or real). In the Ning social networking group The Mistake Bank, Cynthia Kurtz has just started a discussion thread about “mistake haikus” – “I’m wondering what would happen if people shrunk stories of mistakes down to a sentence or two. The point would be mainly to disguise the details of an embarassing story down to something so vague, yet still instructional, that it would be okay to tell.”

An interesting idea. Here’s my contribution, which still needs a little work!

Eager for challenge,
an impossible project
fails when winter bites.

1 Comment so far

John Caddell

Patrick, thank you for your reference to The Mistake Bank. Cynthia’s new discussion is very interesting and may be an effective way to get people to safely share mistakes.

One unscientific finding after working on the Mistake Bank for nearly a year and a half--age matters. Older people that I’ve talked to are fearless in sharing mistakes. Two theories--they feel they have less to lose by sharing, and they want to leave a legacy, some imprint.

Entrepreneurs are also open with sharing mistakes. Successful entrepreneurs know they made lots of mistakes along the way and have still “made it,” so they don’t feel the same stigma that, perhaps, a middle manager in a large company would feel.

My goal is that everyone can share mistakes without fear of consequences, and everyone can equally benefit from learning from the mistakes of others. We have a long row to hoe to get there.

thanks and regards,


Posted on November 06, 2008 at 10:21 PM | Comment permalink

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