We are frail, fragile creatures. I think this is one of the main reasons I push for and try to work in an agile, DevOps style of development. I know that I make mistakes, as do others. My goal is often to ensure our system, our process, our way of working can transcend those mistakes and we can still be effective. We can use automation and regular examination of what works and what doesn’t to ensure our system works well and isn’t overly dependent on one person.
Part of dealing with mistakes and failures is learning from them. Not only do we need to learn ourselves, and avoid repeating mistakes, but we also need to learn to forgive others. I thought about this as I was reading Derik Hammer’s post on Active Forgiveness. In his post, he covers the situations where we acknowledge mistakes without a punishment. Instead, we forgive the act and go to work on finding ways to prevent the same situation from happening in the future.
I think this is one of those concepts and practices that are very difficult for most leaders, and maybe more followers. We don’t want to excuse the behavior, and we certainly don’t want to tolerate this in the future. What we want is for this person, and others, to learn from the mistake and work to prevent it in the future. What often happens is that we blame the person, we’re glad we’re not the person, and we may not learn a lesson because we think that we wouldn’t make the same mistake.
Throughout my career I’ve seen the same mistakes occur over and over. Sometimes the same person makes a mistake again, but often different people make the same mistake because there wasn’t a product retrospective where everyone learned for the future. Having a blameless meeting where discussions take place, mistakes aren’t minimized, and everyone learns is hard, but it is important if we are going to improve our teams performance over time.
I’d encourage you to try to find ways to learn from failures and grow. Forgive others actively, but don’t minimize the mistake. Hopefully you can also help your management learn to do this.