An organization that fails well:
- Understands that human error is normal and predictable.
- Understands that the organization shares the responsibility for failures.
- Succeeds as a team and fails as a team.
- Seeks to understand the mistakes and learn from failures before trying to fix them.
- Looks at the organizational context surrounding a failure for opportunities to understand what happened and how to improve.
- Does not allow one person or department to shoulder the entire responsibility for a failure or mistake.
- Does not ignore problems out of fear of making people feel bad.
- Encourages and thanks team members who speak up when there is a problem.
- Does not hesitate to support employees that need more help to be successful.
- Is introspective about the messages that are sent to employees and supervisors and how they will be interpreted.
- Looks for ways to be resilient to human error.
- Does not blame and punish individuals that make mistakes.
- Does not use inadequate policies and documentation as an excuse for failure.
- Provides positive feedback to employees and supervisors when things go well.
- Does not wait for a failure to provide constructive feedback and is not afraid of tough conversations.
I hope there are some things here that can help you and your organizations. Some of these things take a lifetime to keep working on. It’s hard work, but it is worth it.
David Hanson, CSP