Wednesday, July 6

If we *really* said what happened...

I just read Stephen Downes, and found this quote talking about presentations: "let's say we're 'research-based' (and back it up with surveys of 31 people, half of them managers)". It started me thinking if we were allowed to talk about projects we worked on in real language instead of biz buzz (having just spent a portion of the day in an improv class learning to be fearless).

So, for instance, subsequent testing refined my original design.

Yeah, right.

What really happened is that I had unrealistic expectations about how eager learners would be to explore the interface, and my introduction to the interface was more focused on how to do things and not about what to do (they'll find the game so engaging they'll want to explore. Of course, the user testing showed that my expectations weren't appropriate for a learning game (a very successful one, by the way), and we took my original introduction and made it the help system, and wrote a new introduction to lay out more explicitly just how to survive the game.

One of my clients has a corporate culture of not admitting mistakes. I think this hurts them in the long run, as they can't learn from the past (so are doomed to repeat it). At the Darden Conference on Creating a Learning Culture, one company had an intriguing method for dealing with mistakes: they fired a cannon, not when the mistake was made, but when the lesson was learned. It's safe to fail there, as long as it's a new mistake (a la He Who Fails Fastest Wins).

The point being, it would be great if we would be more able to share lessons learned. Anyone willing to throw ego to the wind and share some important lessons (and give us a laugh as well)?


David Grebow said...

Clark: I imagine that the reason the silence is deafening in that, like myself, after racking the brain about workplaces I seen, no lessons about learning emerge. I think our culture tends to bury our mistakes in the Graveyard of Dead Brain Cells, and just move on. To repeat them over and over.

Actually in many companies if you made a mistake the cannon would be pointed at you. Let the next person come in a do it again.

Perhaps we need a "Corporate Memory" system that logs mistakes and how they were corrected anonymously, since attaching your name to a failure in a no-contract downsize at will work environment is tantamount to jobdeath.

The ony good story I ever heard was Lee Iacocca at the head of Ford. His top exec for the Mustang division was called onto the carpet for his incredible failure developing and selling a new Mustang model. The exec knew he was about to be fired. Instead Iacocca said something to the effect, "Fire you! Don't be crazy. I just spent millions helping you learn what not to do. Now go do it the right way!"

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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