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February 01, 2006

A Major Mistake That Managers Make

By Russell L. Ackoff

All through school we are taught that making a mistake is a bad thing. We are downgraded for them. When we graduate and enter the real world and the organizations that occupy it, the aversion to mistakes continues. As a result one tries either to avoid them or, if one is made, to conceal it or transfer blame to another.

We pay a high price for this because one can only learn from mistakes; by identifying and correcting them.

… in business, if mistakes are made and laws are not broken, you rarely see any formal investigation. Even when the companies themselves look into what happened, they don’t do it in a structured and rigorous way. They don’t learn anything from the process. (Mittelstaedt, Jr., 2005)

One does not learn from doing something right; one already knows how to do it. By doing something right one gets confirmation of what one already knows but no new knowledge. The fact that schools are more interested in teaching than in learning is apparent from their failure to determine if students learn from their mistakes. Once they are graded based on the number of mistakes they make, the teacher presses on, does not check to determine whether the student has learned from the mistakes made.

Schools, including business schools, do not even reveal the fact that there are two kinds of mistakes.
To read this article, click on the link: A Major Mistake That Managers Make

Posted by ACASA on February 1, 2006 at 01:53 PM in Systems Articles | Permalink


One of the other big mistakes managers make is to not listen to subordinates. They assume they know all the answers. The reason is that the system is at fault, not individuals - read this brilliant "manifesto" titled 'Why your boss is programmed to be a dictator' at http://www.changethis.com/19.BossDictator . The manifesto looks at management/leadership from a systems framework, and the results are astonishing.

Posted by: Peter Johnson at Feb 10, 2006 8:44:36 AM

I've definitely learned more from my mistakes than I have from my successes.

Posted by: Terry Mitchell at Feb 2, 2006 4:04:58 PM

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