Thursday, June 24, 2010

More about Failure

We like to celebrate our successes. We have graduation parties, celebrate the completion of projects, a big sale, etc. It's easy.

How do you deal with your failures? Do you try to forget about them, sweeping them under the rug? Maybe you're embarrassed about the failure or have been punished for the failure.

I think it's important (perhaps after some time has passed) to review your failures to see what might have gone wrong. Is there something specific you can avoid in the future? Is there a pattern emerging where similar situations end up the same? Recognizing patterns is what we as humans are good at, but we need to be looking for them. Burying your head in the sand and hoping to forget about a bad experience increase the chances that you'll end up in a similar situation again.

Also, leaders shouldn't punish people for failures (other than perhaps ethical failures - and certainly criminal failures). It will make them afraid to take risks, try something new, or be creative. How can you expect creative solutions to difficult problems if the consequences of failure are too great.

Mistakes can be golden if you learn from them.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Overcoming Mental Blocks

A quote from the signal vs noise blog. "Sometimes a design isn’t working because you think you can’t change the one element that needs to be changed"

The same goes for problem solutions. Maybe you're not finding an effective solution because you are locked in on something as being essential when it isn't. Take a step back, attack the problem with a beginner's mind and maybe another solution will present itself.

I was once faced with an analysis problem in which I couldn't avoid the compound I was trying to analyze decompose in the equipment. After many iterations of trying to find a way to avoid decomposition, I finally realized that if I deliberately decomposed the compound in a known manner, the solution was easy.