A Culture of Growth: 10,000 ways Not to make a light bulb

Courtesy of bonsaitreegardener.net

There is a story of a young associate who was working on a million dollar deal that went sour.  His executive called him into his office soon after that for a conversation.  When the associate arrived, he was perplexed that the conversation was not going how he expected it.

After a few minutes into their interaction, the associate stopped and blurted out, “I am confused. I came into this office convinced that I was going to get fired for losing that big deal.  Instead, you are asking me for ideas on how to strengthen other deals in progress.  Am I getting fired?”

The executive replied without hesitation, “Why would I fire you?  I just invested a million dollars in your education!

Nobody likes to make mistakes, some take it harder than others, but we collectively want to do the right things right.  If we want to provide the latitude for people to grow by practicing the skills of business growth, we need to expect that everyone is going to make mistakes.

A culture of growth should contain attributes where mistakes are not entirely failures; they are the lessons on perhaps how NOT to build a light bulb and an indication of the other types of lessons/skills we need to learn or refine to be more successful next time.  The attitude of “do it again”.

We don’t have to wait for the million-dollar deal to go south, we can create the opportunity to make affordable mistakes by understanding where people are in their framework of development, mentioned earlier, and providing assignments that match/stretch those skills.

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