Posted by: Edward | August 9, 2015

Cultivating a Positive Error Culture

If you want to improve your life, your workplace, and your relationships then a powerful thing you can do is work on developing a positive error culture.

Most of us already have some experience with negative error cultures. That’s when a mistake is a bad thing that is enough to judge a person or their capabilities as a whole. When you feel the need to hide your mistakes or you hear people talking about the need to cover your ass, then you are probably in a negative error culture.

In a positive error culture a mistake, or a bad result, is viewed as an opportunity to improve your way of doing things. An individual error is actually good thing in that it brings a deficiency in your procedures to light. Now you have an opportunity to improve them so the problem will not recur. Errors are part of the process of improving your body of practices.

In order to do this, you have to move the location of the error from the person to the behaviours that generated it. Let go of the need to blame. Stop asking whose fault this is and start asking how did this happen. When you identify the sequence of events, decisions, and behaviours that generated the result you don’t want, then you can begin changing them to get results you do want.

This can’t happen if the people involved feel attacked, devalued, or disrespected. When people feel confident that their value is affirmed and the focus is on the behaviours then they can feel safe enough to be open about what those behaviours were. Only with that openness is real change possible.

Begin by applying this mindset to yourself. When you make a mistake, don’t attack and degrade yourself but instead remind yourself you are a person trying your best, capable of learning and growth. Remind yourself the problem isn’t people but behaviours. Admit to yourself what the error was and explore how it occurred and what behaviours contributed to it. Then figure out how you could behave differently so that the problem will not happen again. Finally, commit to making those new behaviours into habits.

As you become more comfortable with a positive error culture you can begin to extend it to others you interact with. Refuse to participate in blame games. Continue to value and respect everyone involved. And focus on behaviour change. With patience this will transform your relationships into the sorts that get stronger in the face of adversity and the sort that solves problems rather than fights over them.



  1. Reblogged this on Weaving Among The Stars.

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