Lean Blog Audio — A Workplace Culture Where “FAIL” Means First Attempt in Learning

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Below is some material that I wrote, but didn't use, in my book The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. Maybe it was a mistake to cut it. But the material wasn't really related to my podcast. It was based on some interactions with some Veterans Administration Health Care leaders after giving a talk on learning from mistakes last November.

What is culture?

Some say it's simply how we do things in this organization.

The late Edgar Schein, a famed MIT professor, wrote that we can observe and describe culture through artifacts, espoused values, and assumptions.

One example of an artifact is a small card given to me by a U.S. Veterans Health Administration site leader who is building a culture of learning from mistakes.  

On one side, the card said the holder was “free to fail.” The card framed a “FAIL” as the:

“First Attempt In Learning.”

An Artifact from a Veteran's Administration Healthcare Site

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