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Making no mistakes? You’ve counted too many sheep

Ahead of a recent conversation with one of our earliest clients at IKEA, I read ‘The Testament of a Furniture Dealer’ from their website. A fascinating read, it delves deeper into the company’s values, in the words of IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad.

There’s much that I could comment on, but this struck a chord with me in particular:

“Only while sleeping one makes no mistakes. Making mistakes is the privilege of the active – of those who can correct their mistakes and put them right.

Our objectives require us to constantly practise making decisions and taking responsibility, to constantly overcome our fear of making mistakes.

The fear of making mistakes is the root of bureaucracy and the enemy of development. No decision can claim to be the only right one; it is the energy that is put into the decision that determines whether it is right. It must be allowed to make mistakes.”

I always remember my water-skiing instructor saying to me that if I didn’t fall in the water I wasn’t pushing myself hard enough. And you can apply this to any area of life.

One of my passions is languages and I like to think I have a good ear for them. One of my let-downs however is to construct each sentence perfectly, with all the verbs and prepositions in the right place, etc. If I simply let go, practised more and allowed mistakes, I would ultimately speak the language more fluently.

For the majority of teams that are challenged to herd sheep with Raising the Baa, it is a totally new experience. Not surprisingly they make mistake after mistake. This is fine if lessons are learned before moving on. Reviewing is key – verbally and actively.

So often we hear: “so what went wrong?” And whilst that’s OK it’s more positive to first ask: “what went well that time?” or “what did we do better than last time?”

More actively we may ask the teams to ‘replay’ what just happened, with people acting as sheep or dogs. This puts a whole different perspective on their reviewing.

The energy is kept high and the team is more willing and enthused about having another go or adopting a completely different strategy.

How many mistakes have you and your team made today? And what did you learn from them? Name, shame and rejoice in them!