Friday, May 11, 2012

"Teaming" Day 5: Final Thoughts

This is the last in our weeklong series of posts on "Teaming: How Organizations Learn, Innovate, and Compete in the Knowledge Economy," by Amy Edmondson.

I will wrap up our week by highlighting some of the best quotes in "Teaming." I've added a couple of editorial comments in [square brackets]:

When facing an uncertain path forward, trying something that fails, then figuring our what works instead, is the very essence of good performance. Great performance, however, is trying something that fails, figuring out what works instead, and telling your colleagues all about it - about both the success and the failure. (pp 29-30)

Despite rhetoric to the contrary, many of us still expect ourselves and others to get things right the first time. We view failures as unacceptable. We give directives to those below, and look for direction from supervisors above. (p 40)

When people frame a task as a "performance situation" they are more risk averse and less willing to persist through obstacles than when the same task is framed as a "learning situation." Not only do people adopting a learning frame persist longer in unfamiliar, challenging tasks, but they ultimately learn more as a result. In addition, people with a performance frame engage in less experimentation and innovation and are less likely to formulate new strategies in difficult situations. Instead they're more likely to fall back on ineffective strategies they have used previously. (p 86)

To learn from mistakes and missteps, organizations must employ new and better ways to go beyond lessons that are superficial (procedures weren't followed) or self-serving (the market just wasn't ready for our great new product). This requires jettisoning old cultural beliefs and stereotypical notions of success and replacing them with a new paradigm that recognizes that some failures are inevitable in today's complex work organizations and that successful organizations will be those that catch, correct, and learn from failures quickly. (p 150)

People tend to be more comfortable considering evidence that supports what they believe, denying responsibility for failures, and attributing problems to others. (p 155)

The difference between failures that are truly blameworthy and those that are simply treated as blameworthy reveals a gap between logic and practice. [I would add that it reveals a gap between a person's vision, or what she hopes to be true, and raw reality.] (p 160)

Engineers' or scientists' intuition can be telling them for weeks that a project has fatal flaws, but making the formal decision to call it a failure may be delayed for months. Considerable resources are saved when such projects are stopped in a timely way and people are freed up to explore the next potential innovation. [I've experienced this in business-to-business sales environments. The declaration of a loss can take weeks or months, chewing up resources all the while.] (p 174)

Most of us would prefer to have reliable solutions to the problems we face, and we certainly like to feel that we are good at what we do. But execution-as-learning requires us to accept our individual and collective fallibility. (p 225)

You can find all our posts related to "Teaming" here.

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