My Favorite Mistake — 195: Ward Vuillemot on Celebration of Errors (CoE) and Understanding Customer Behavior

Episode page with transcript and more

My guest for Episode #195 of the My Favorite Mistake podcast is Ward Vuillemot. Ward is a seasoned C-suite executive with over six years of experience leading fully remote teams while building technology organizations from the ground up for companies with 150 to 650 employees in size and $50M to $125M in revenue across the Americas and Europe.

He is currently Chief Product Officer and CTO at RealSelf. He is a technical advisor with his own company, where he advises startup founders and CEOs on technical roadmap and technology organization along with lean approaches to finding market signals quickly.

I invited Ward because of this Forbes article about celebrating errors.

In this episode, Ward tells his favorite mistake story about launching “Amazon Tote” and why there was “too little friction” in user experience. What did he learn about understanding the customer experience? In a separate story, what was Ward’s epiphany about seeing an ant on a bus?

Questions and Topics:

  • Innovation is doing something others haven’t done before
  • Tell us about the Celebration of Error (CoE) concept – and practice…
  • Chicken and egg between psychological safety and CoE?
  • How much Psychological Safety is necessary and how does CoE build more PS?
  • From Correction of Error (Amazon) to Celebration of Error?
  • Are all errors created equally in terms of what to celebrate?
  • Discovering mistakes that had been there for years
  • As a person who is “high-functioning autistic” – is it ever a mistake to disclose something that personal?
  • From mindset to document?
  1. IMPACT of the error on business – send to whole company?… why it matters, not why it happened
  2. RESOLUTIONS — short-term and long-term (countermeasures) – fire out, then prevention
  3. ROOT CAUSE – “show your work”
  • When to use a CoE?
  • People “NEED” to make mistakes to hit ever-greater goals?
  • Taking an impersonal, non-blaming approach — easier said than done? Fighting the instinct to blame?

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