Vineet Nayar proudly wears his contrarian badge.
Trying things out cannot always be safe, we might trip but we might also discover something of value, he notes In The Miracle of Making Mistakes (Harvard Business Review Blog, July 15).
His opening chapter sums up the conundrum:
"All through school, a mistake indicates the prospect of lower grades. Good students don't make mistakes. At home, mistakes lead to admonishments. Good children follow the rules. At work, mistakes have serious repercussions. Good workers get it right the first time.
But, in those very schools and organizations where we are marked down for making mistakes, we also learn that people often stumble upon great inventions. There's growing evidence to suggest that innovation flourishes when people are given the space to make mistakes."
To make his point vivid, he reminds us of an experience most of us had as kids:
"Do you remember the first time you rode a bicycle? Can you relive the exhilaration of riding free, the sense of triumph as you broke free of the crutches of support? Now step back. How many times did you fall off the bike before that first ride?"
Fear of failure was something that came up often in the discussion of Are Newspapers Dead Yet? (On the Media, July 16) The consensus was try things, try again, fall and pick yourself up, as time goes by, solutions and ideas that work will emerge, not for the faint, not for the fearful.
Making mistakes does not mean being blind to reality as seemed to happen to Randall Lane shot at becoming a mini-media mogul chronicled in The Zeroes (Portfolio).
After reading From hero to zero, the review by William Cohan (FT, July 15), I felt that Randall Lane's ultimate mistake might have been to write his book. I did feel bad for his wife.
It goes to show the difference between mistakes and disasters.
Vineet Nayar (CEO of HCL Technologies Ltd) wrote Employees First, Customers Second (June 2010, Harvard Business Press).
Learning by trial and error for Monday Work Etiquette # 145