A mistake is an opportunity to learn
by Simona Bonghez, Ph.D, PMP, owner of Colors in Projects
Learning from mistakes:
Learning from a mistake is possible only after we admit we have made it. Blaming others, finding external reasons and pointing out colleagues, team members or other stakeholders raise an imaginary wall between us and any possible lesson we could learn from what happened. The project manager has to be aware of this threat and by being an example (and taking some of the mistakes upon itself) to encourage his /her team members to admit their mistakes.
Mistakes – shame and guiltiness:
Admission of a mistake, even sometimes privately to ourselves, makes learning possible by moving the focus away from blame and towards understanding. One of the cultural assumptions we have about mistakes and failures, makes sometimes this admittance very difficult, namely that mistakes are shameful things. We were taught in schools and in our families or even at work to feel guilty about failure and to do whatever we can to avoid mistakes. This sense of shame explains why many people prefer to conceal or to cover some of the mistakes, actually inherent in any project; it explains also why some of out team members do not accept challenges (as they are afraid of the possible failure, and therefore of the shame to fail).
Mistakes – opportunities to learn:
Project managers have to raise the team members’ self-confidence, help them to understand that accepting a mistake is their chance to learn, that mistakes are actually experiences which can be shared with colleagues in order to help them avoiding the same mistakes; that this way they add value to the project and to the organization. This message should be communicated to different project team members by the management of the organization as well; the message should be consistent throughout the organization.
Once the mistake admitted, we need to do something in order to correct it. This means, in most of the cases, that we need to change either our behavior or some of the processes or practices we use in projects.
Simona Bonghez, Ph.D. – Author, Speaker, Owner of Colors in Projects, Principal Consultant of BRISK Business Inc.
Although she has IT background, Simona Bonghez’s professional path moved slowly towards training and consultancy. With over 20 years’ experience in Management and Project Management, Simona is involved in delivering multiple training programs and consulting services in Romania and worldwide. Even though professional experience is a defining aspect in her activity she thinks that she would not have come this far without a good sense of humor. She really believes that games and metaphors are powerful tools for having interactive and enjoyable training sessions, thus enforcing the learning process.