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03 – Learn to Fail | Principles of Lean

Failure is learning

“Don’t stigmitise failure – treat it as an opportunity to learn.”

All too often organisations who are trying to change and develop new ways of working do not succeed as their people are so scared of failure

Learning to see failure as an opportunity to learn underpins the continuous improvement journey as learning what doesn’t work is just as important as learning what does.

Lean is about identify and generating greater customer value so learning what doesn’t add value (muda) is another step towards creating greater value. But we must be willing to learn, share those learnings and work hard to not repeat the same errors.

Often after a massive mistake, people write up their “lessons learnt” but these do not become institutionalised into the learning structures of the future. The lessons learnt are not centralised for future leaders so the risk is that the same mistake happens again – and this is waste…

So we have to create an organisation that accepts failures but one that is able to  share these learnings today, but also provide a playbook for future generations.

This is one of the reasons the A3 Problem Solving approach is such a powerful tool. It is not just to document improvements and help communicate the change today, but when stored and well maintained, they provide a library of learnings for future generations.


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  1. […] People need to feel empowered to make decisions and also be held accountable for the results of any decisions. This links directly to creating an environment where failure is not stigmatized. […]

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