How to use lean to learn from mistakes
Learning from mistakes is key to continuous improvement. Lean is more than just process improvement. Lean requires you to think differently, to challenge the status quo, to look at products, services and process from the end-user perspective. Individuals who think Lean, continuously strive to make improvements.
To explore and learn from mistakes, one tool Lean uses is an After Action Review (AAR). If you are involved in a project or program that involves multiple people, then you will want to understand each person’s perception, because each person will emphasize different aspects of the situation based on their skills, biases, and circumstances.
Using an After Action Review
An After Action Review, asks the people who are involved, four simple questions:
1. What did you expect to occur?
2. What actually occurred?
3. What went well, and why?
4. What can be improved, and how?
The answers to these questions will get you closer to a complete view of what took place, provide ideas to avoid similar mistakes in the future, and identify ways to improve. Remember, progress won’t be a straight line but if you keep learning you will have more successes than failures, and the mistakes you make along the way may even improve the final outcomes.
5 steps to learn from mistakes
- Accept responsibility (own a task, project), be empowered (take initiative to get things done), and be accountable (accept the consequences – good and bad)
- You can’t change past mistakes, but you can choose how you respond
- Growth and learning occur when you learn from mistakes and identify ways to improve
- Understand how your behaviour and attitude influenced the outcome
- Don’t overcompensate (e.g. don’t put in extra approvals and process steps as a means of protecting yourself from future possible penalties)