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Showing 1-9 of 9 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 14 reviews
The title of this review was excerpted from a longer passage worthy of inclusion now. Paul Schoemaker observes, "The great virtue of mistakes, whether they occur accidentally or by design, is their ability to enlarge our range of experience, shrink our ego, and thereby increase the chance of discovery. If you accept that humans are myopic and largely unaware of their own bounded rationality, then some degree of mistake-making is appropriate and welcome. This is especially hard in organizations but leaders can start by instituting awards like the Golden Egg." That is, view mistakes as (potentially) valuable assets, not as "failures."

Schoemaker notes that one CEO obtained some empty L'eggs pantyhose plastic eggs, sprayed them with gold paint, and used them when awarding the "best mistake of the month." That is, the mistake from which the most valuable information was obtained. As Thomas Edison never missed an opportunity to point out, understanding what doesn't work is critically important to determining what does.

Several passages caught my eye. For example, "Four Factors Impacting a Decision's Outcome," each of which has the potentiality to "blind us about the quality of a decision, to lead us away from the path of truly understanding another person's judgment toward quick but potentially false and unfair conclusions." (Pages 14-22) Another, "Conditions That Favor Deliberate Mistakes," offers invaluable advice when mistakes should be encouraged because long-term learning is more important than short-term results. "Consider the strategy of deliberate mistakes as one of many tools that managers can employ when operating on the right side of the knowledge spectrum." (Pages 88-92). Still another, in Chapter 7, traces "the pathway of a brilliant mistake" that led a Scottish scientist, Alexander Fleming, to the eventual discovery of penicillin. (Pages 120-126).

When concluding his brilliant book, Schoemaker asserts, "The key question companies need to address is not `[begin italics] Should [end italics] we make mistakes?' but rather `[begin italics] Which [end italics] mistakes should we make in order to test our deeply held assumptions?'"
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on July 17, 2013
I teach a University management class on "Failing Forward" where we look at individual, group, and organizational failure. This is a good book with numerous examples of failures that were turned into successes. Failure must be talked about because it is part of life. This book can inspire people to keep trying when faced with failure.
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on January 19, 2012
All mistakes are not created equal; it is possible to design for brilliant mistakes - those that accelerate learning and lead to breakthrough innovation - and to avoid tragic ones, according to Paul Schoemaker in this book. Some mistakes have high cost and offer little learning value, but others cost little and produce deep valuable insight. Those are the ones which need to be embraced and fostered.

Some of the insights contained in the book:

* To learn from mistakes, it is important to separate the decision process (which you control) from the outcomes (which are usually influenced by external factors
* Humans have a tendency to seek confirming evidence, whereas the whole truth can often only be discovered by deliberately seeking disconfirming evidence
* To make better decisions, we must adopt a humble view on how much we know about the world around us; we must frequently challenge and test potentially outdated assumptions
* Organizations should identify their assumptions and deliberately set up experiments to challenge some of them where there is low risk and high potential gain
* It is wise to establish a varied portfolio of potential failures to increase the chances of some turning out to be brilliant mistakes

While I do not particularly like the term "brilliant mistakes", I found the author's arguments persuasive. Beneficial innovations can only arise as a result of doing something differently, and that usually involves challenging the established wisdom of departing from the established procedures. Often such deviations will be based on the contrarian "hunch" of an individual and so are deliberate although established wisdom might view them as mistakes. This book is suitable for leaders of all types of organizations, not just those who aim to be innovators, because all organizations benefit from a decision-making process that takes into account the role of mistakes.
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on February 13, 2013
I thought that this book was great food for thought. Its a worthwhile piece to help anyone who might struggle to decide which risks are worth taking, probably all of us do.
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on November 26, 2012
I considered it because because I wanted to be motivated when making unintentional mistakes but this book taught me how to make mistakes on purpose that are educative.
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on November 23, 2012
Interesting concept with clear and relevant examples applicable to everyday life. I would recommend that you add it to your collection.
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on December 11, 2014
Love it!
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on June 11, 2014
Nice to read, but really nothing special. Main idea is that you need to make mistakes in order to learn and improve. If this sounds interesting for you, you may like the book. It has a lot of examples.
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on April 18, 2012
The book attempts to redefine the definition of "mistakes", a noble, yet misguided attempt to change the english language. The examples given in the book are not mistakes but calculated risks that pay off, I couldn't get through 1/4 of it since it is so bad so it's possible that there are examples of risks that didn't pay off.

So far it seems to heavily tell the story of the Beatles being signed by George Martin when no other label would sign them, which could've been considered a mistake if they had not done well, not mentioning that the way George Martin produced them was most likely crucial to their success. This is an example of calculated risk based on what the person making the risk sees what they can do with the potential of people and opportunities. It's also a poor example since every band in existence has been turned down by labels before being signed to one. 99% of these artists you've never heard from and there's probably a reason for that.
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