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The Harvard Business Review has had a series of articles on the importance of creating organizations that are willing to admit failure. Included in this post is a link to a HBR blog post that I find quite interesting. There are some great examples of how companies have used failure to fundamentally change and improve their businesses (e.g., Domino’s Pizza and Ford Motor Company). I want to take a slightly different approach in this blog and talk about creating cultures where there is a healthy balance between looking at failures and successes.
A lot of our work is with construction and material handling equipment dealers. Typically, they offer service and repair to their customers in either a field or shop environment. A high percentage of the time the work is done correctly and the customer knows what to expect on the bill. There are occasions where this does not happen and there is a complaint. Assuming it is something to do with the job not being done correctly, the person delivering about it hears about it even though the last 30 service calls may have gone perfectly and met or exceeded customer expectations. Better balance is needed. Examine your assumptions. Often, the underlying assumptions are that the service will always meet expectations (good assumption) and recognition is not required for doing your job (bad assumption).
Examining these fundamental assumptions are important in any environment and especially true if you are in an industrial service environment. Think about the balance you have between focusing on the failures and the successes. Are they in balance?