In order to grow, an organisation must learn. In order to learn, an organisation must make mistakes. If you don’t let people make their own mistakes, they will not learn – and that’s quite bad. If you don’t learn, you are destined to repeat your mistakes over and over like Sisyphus eternally carrying a rock up the hill.
It’s not easy letting people make their own mistakes. Things will not always be done the way you like. People will not see things that were so obvious to you. The end result will look different from what you imagined. Every time.
Importantly, things will go wrong. What you need to have are mechanisms that allow mistakes to get corrected easily. That’s pretty much what “lean” is great at – reduce waste, eliminate unnecessary inventory. That way you can detect early on when a mistake is happening, correct quickly and not lose a bunch of work (or worse).
People are often afraid of making mistakes because it will make them look bad. Don’t make people look bad when they make mistakes. Remember, you want them to make mistakes a certain portion of the time.
Of course, there are mistakes you cannot let people make. Those that will kill your product. In reality, all of these can be detected well before they get the chance to do much damage. Letting people make mistakes does not mean doing things you know are wrong – it means letting people figure out by themselves how to get from here to success. It also means you shouldn’t be doing really big things without dipping a toe in the water first.
Who knows, maybe publishing this post is a mistake?