Go Ahead, Make a Mistake

Most managers frown on mistakes -- their own and others. But done right, mistakes accelerate learning and sharpen your company's competitive edge. Still, mistakes are costly, so you need to extract *profitable* learning from them.

A good first step is knowing when to make mistakes. The time is right when you need fresh approaches to a complex problem and when the potential learning from a failure far outweighs the potential cost. For example, in advertising tests, David Ogilvy deliberately included inexpensive "mistake" ads he thought wouldn't work. Most of these "losers" bombed. But a few succeeded. And they pointed to innovative approaches in the fickle world of advertising.

Today's Management Tip of the Day was adapted from the HBR article, "The Wisdom of Deliberate Mistakes," by Paul J.H. Schoemaker and Robert E. Gunther.

By washingtonpost.com Editors  |  July 14, 2008; 12:00 PM ET  | Category:  Management Tip of the Day
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