This week’s focus: A few years ago, I was invited to the opening of a new concept store. The store looked great and the initial customer reaction was extremely positive. I turned to one of the project managers who was there and asked him if he’d been closely involved with the project. “Well,” he replied, “It’s a bit too early to say!

Behind his witticism was a realization that the organization did not tolerate failure, even when testing something very new and innovative. Failure wasn’t so much an opportunity for learning; it was more an opportunity to seek a new career!

At some point in the near future, we will need to learn how our societies and nations could have both prepared for the coronavirus better and also responded to the pandemic more effectively.

But our ability to learn will be hugely diminished if all we do is try and find someone to blame. If that’s what happens, then people will simply deflect, point to other factors and try to avoid responsibility.

Successes do not come out of thin air. They are the product of the lessons from previous failures. In some cases, such as the new concept store, the price of the lesson is simply lower-than-hoped-for sales. In others, such as the pandemic, the improvements will happen because, tragically, people have died.

In both cases, however, future success will only happen if there is a willingness to be open, transparent and share failures. The blame game limits that willingness and so limits our ability to succeed.

How well does your organization learn and apply the lessons from previous failures? And how do you ensure that your learning processes focus on cause and improvement, rather than blame?

Off The Record: Blame It On Cain by Elvis Costello

Blame it on Cain –

Don’t blame it on me,

Oh-oh, oh, it’s nobody’s fault

But we need somebody to burn!

How To Be A Strategic Leader

Books on strategy tend to be big on concepts, but short on practical approaches. This book is different!

Based on my work with some of the world’s leading companies, the 15 lessons in How To Be A Strategic Leader will give you pragmatic ideas to develop and deliver a growth-focused strategy for your business.

© Stuart Cross 2020. All rights reserved.