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My Favorite Mistake, Your Favorite Mistake? Learning From Mistakes as Individuals and Organizations

Posted by Danielle Yoon

Jul 12, 2022 10:13:00 AM

Puzzle head brain concept as a human face profile made from crumpled white paper with a jigsaw piece cut out on a rustic old wood background as a mental health symbol.Mark Graban, Senior Advisor at KaiNexus, joined us on our Continuous Improvement webinar series to talk about My Favorite Mistake, Your Favorite Mistake? Learning From Mistakes as Individuals and Organizations.

You can read a transcript of the webinar below. 

In this webinar, you'll learn and hear stories about:

· Why it’s important to admit mistakes to ourselves
· How to reflect on mistakes without being too hard on ourselves
· How to prevent repeating our mistakes
· Key leadership behaviors that create a culture where it’s safe for people to admit mistakes

You can watch the webinar recording here, or you can read the webinar transcript below.

Morgan Wright:  Welcome everybody to today's webinar, "My Favorite Mistake, Your Favorite Mistake? Learning from Mistakes as Individuals and Organizations."

For those of you who don't know me, I am Morgan Wright. I am the Customer Marketing Manager here at KaiNexus. I'm very happy to be joined by Mark Graban as our presenter today. Without further ado...

Mark Graban:  I am sorry, I'm going to jump in. Let me point out one other thing and solve it off from our standard work.

If people want to access links to some of the different podcast episodes and stories I'm going to be referring to here today, and we'll put this up again at the end, you can go to MarkGraban.com/KaiNexus2022. Thanks, Morgan.

Morgan:  Awesome. For those of you who don't know Mark, this is Mark Graban, of course, he's our Senior Advisor here at KaiNexus. He just had his 11th KaiNexiversary. That's a long time, Mark?

Mark:  Yeah. It's been great.

Morgan:  That's awesome. Mark is the author of the award-winning book "Lean Hospitals." Mark is also the co-author with Joe Swartz of "Healthcare Kaizen," and "The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen," and both books mention examples of our work here at KaiNexus.

His most recent book "Measures of Success    React Less, Lead Better, Improve More." He is also the creator and editor of the book "Practicing Lean."

Of course, Mark is the host of several podcasts, including "Lean Blog Interviews," "A Habitual Excellence, presented by Value Capture," and "My Favorite Mistake," as many of us know.

Mark has his BS in Industrial Engineering from Northwestern University, and an MS in Mechanical Engineering, and his MBA from Massachusetts Institute of Technology Leaders for Global Operations Program.

With that, we'll go ahead and get started. Mark, I'll let you take the floor.

Mark:  Great, Morgan, thank you. Second month in a row for doing the hosting duties, I appreciate you doing that, and I appreciate the opportunity.

Our presentation today, I originally gave this presentation at our KaiNexicon event last month, our Annual User Conference. It was great to be back together after two years away because of the pandemic, and I think the talk was well received.

I thought, well, let's share it here today with the webinar audience, and hopefully, the outcome is the same today, or hopefully, presentation is better than before because we do try to practice continuous improvement here within KaiNexus. Again, you can go markgraban.com/kainexus2022, or you can get the slides using the link that Morgan shared in the chat.

Morgan mentioned the podcast that I started almost two years ago called My Favorite Mistake. I make mistakes all the time. We all. We have our most recent mistakes. Talking to people in the podcast over, it's been a little more than 18 months, and it's been 180 people that I've talked to, wide ranging from different industries, different professions, different fields.

I've asked this diverse group of people, different ages and some really accomplished, highly successful people in their realm and their domain. I've asked them all the same question, thinking in terms of their career or their professional settings, or their workplace, "What's your favorite mistake?"

Probably at least half the guests, I'd have to go back and count. Their first response, is something like this. Dr. Jen Welter, you see pictured here. She was actually the first woman hired by an NFL team. She was hired by the Arizona Cardinals to be an assistant coach for their defensive players during one training camp. She broke a barrier there.

She's been very successful as a player in women's football and as a coach for women and for men. When I asked her, "Jen, what is your favorite mistake?" She said, like a lot of people, "Well, gosh, there are so many. How do I choose?"

Of all our different mistakes that we've made, some of them stick with us. Some of them become that favorite mistake story. Tom Peters, who you see pictured here, legendary management consultant and author, and speaker over the past couple of decades.

He said at the beginning, when I asked him, I said, "Well, I've made so many mistakes. I presume we've got a minimum of an hour and a half to talk about it." He's a talker. I could have talked to him for an hour and a half, but we had about half as much time. He shared some different mistakes there.

Most guests appreciate this framing of the question, "What is their favorite mistake?" One person I got to pose this question to, pictured here, is Greg Cody. He's been a long time sports columnist for the "Miami Herald" newspaper.

He had a different reaction to it. He's, "What an odd phrase. It's an oxymoron. Why would I consider a mistake to be something cherished and favorited?" We've been able to explore that with different guests and we'll share some examples with you today.

Even with that preface, Greg Cote's story was one where it was early in his career. He was working as a reporter. He was interviewing a soccer player from Argentina, who told what turned out to be a very tall tale about something involving his family and the Falkland Islands War. This is going back 40 years ago.

Greg Cote trusted what he said and he printed it in the paper he violated that cardinal rule of journalism of have two sources or double check everything. Greg Cote learned that the player had lied to him. I think he was pulling a prank. Maybe he was annoyed by Greg the journalist.

Greg Cote's reflection from the story was this reminder to always double check. Like you said, if somebody says their name is John, I'll verify is that J O H N, and to be a little bit more skeptical or cautious as a reporter.

That's what he came up with as a favorite mistake. In general, I hadn't even really thought this through fully when I started the podcast. I love the song by Sheryl Crow "My Favorite Mistake". I know it's a catchy phrase.

I've been fascinated about this idea of learning from mistakes for a while now but hearing the patterns and the stories through these different guests and something may be interesting for all of us to think of. Do we have a favorite mistake?

I think a favorite mistake is one or more of these things. It's something that led to learning that helped your career, or maybe it helped your organization. You're not really thrilled that it happened, but you made something good out of it, because you've reflected and you've learned.

A favorite mistake might be something that hopefully you've learned to avoid repeating. This is where I think there's a strong continuous improvement theme to these conversations I've had with people, where I think we would all agree we should be learning from mistakes, or problems, or defects, whatever words we're using.

React in a way that helps us improve our behaviors, improve our processes to avoid repeating it from happening again. Sometimes a favorite mistake leads to maybe an unexpected positive outcome. When people ask me, "All right, what are your favorite mistakes?" There's a couple of stories that come to mind.

KaiNexus, of course, is an Austin based company. I first moved with people all over the US. I first moved to Austin in 1999 to take a job at Dell computer and you'll see the picture. One of the buildings pictured here. I took this job at Dell and I stayed with that company, not quite two years.

It was the right place for me, it wasn't the right fit. I got to do some interesting work there and it wasn't the worst mistake I ever made. It was a favorite mistake in the sense that working there at Dell, I met my wife and we've been married for more than 20 years. To be clear, I don't think she considers marrying me to be a mistake and I certainly don't view it as a mistake.

I don't want anyone, please don't tweet that Mark Graban said give...No, that's not what I said. The favorite mistake of taking that job at Dell led to something thankfully very positive.

Ron McGill, I got to ask him this question. He's a zoologist at Zoo Miami and his story was surprising and it was a little more dramatic. He described how he was a young zoologist. He said he was cocky. He got careless and he was working with a crocodile and he got his right hand bitten really badly. He ended up in the hospital.

Now, he still has use of his hands and thankfully it didn't get bitten completely off. Similar to my story, and in a more dramatic way, one of the nurses who was caring for him in the aftermath of the crocodile bite, again became his wife.

To be clear again, not the giraffe he's pictured with there, but a human woman [laughs] who was his nurse and that's why Ron McGill considered that to be his favorite mistake.

These stories might be cute, nice, or in the categories of what Bob Ross, the painter back in the day who had the TV show about painting you can stream it. He's still popular today what he calls happy accidents or happy mistakes, versus life lessons.

Let me share some stories that are a little bit more maybe compelling and impactful in terms of workplace lessons learned. I'm going to have to pause one second because I've had painters working in my place. I think they locked themselves out. Forgive me for 30 seconds. If they're still there, let me open the door.

I will edit this out. My apologies, Morgan. Do you have a favorite mistake story? I'll be right back.

[NOTE FROM MARK: I decided to not edit this out -- because why hide our mistakes? And I shared some reflections about this at the end of the webinar.]

Morgan:  Gosh. Putting me on the spot here. Favorite mistake? The first thing that comes to mind, of course, is work-related. We all take jobs that we didn't end up loving, we didn't end up staying at, similar to Mark's, but that we've learned so much from, and that we wouldn't be the same or we wouldn't be where we are without it.

Mark:  I'm going to have to go back and hear what you said in the recording there, Morgan.

Morgan:  It was very specific. I'm glad you're back.

Mark:  I did put you on the spot and I asked you to riff a little bit. There was a different contractor who showed up to follow up on something unannounced. Back into the flow of things. That's the more recent mistake. Life lessons, workplace situations.

The more serious story I tell when people ask, "OK, what was your favorite mistake?" I think back to the last manufacturing company that I worked for. This is going back to about 2004. Even though I had, at that point, probably 10 years' experience with Lean.

Coming into that company, they wanted to put me through their certification program. It was basically a Lean Black Belt program they used if you will. In that certification, I was tasked with going and doing a project.

There was an important business problem where one of the production areas was constantly running short of finished goods inventory. It was hampering the production, and final assembly. It was certainly hurting delivery to the customer. I was involved in this technical project of setting up changeover points, reorder points, Kanban systems, and visual management.

Technically, everything I did there, including the math in the setup, I thought was fine, correct, and it would have worked. The mistake was not properly engaging the people who work in these production areas.

Now, some of that was the culture I was working within. It was not a culture that would have allowed me to stop the line for any period of time. They were behind on their production. They weren't going to stop and let me work with people. I had to catch them when I could.

The end result of it was a system that was not embraced, that was not used. It certainly didn't sustain. I take some responsibility for that. I should have pushed harder against that prevailing culture. I should have pushed harder to say, "Hey, let me have time to work with the staff, and to get their input, and to let them work on this," and all.

The one takeaway for me was to make sure I don't allow myself to be put into that situation again as a consultant, especially as an outsider. If somebody said, "We want you to come in and fix it, and put it in the system for us," I would politely decline and say, "I don't think that's a good approach."

What I have been more successful with is when I have been able to more fully engage the team and their leaders to help develop the change and help put it into place. That story is one that I collected with the stories from others in that book, "Practicing Lean," that I published some years ago, where 50 and other Lean professionals. I shared stories from our careers.

I wasn't using the phrase favorite mistake then. What's a mistake that you remember that if you could go back in time, you would try to teach yourself to do things differently? What would you tell yourself? Part of the spirit of the book was this recognition that we all make mistakes, especially early in our career.

We should be more accepting and less judgmental about people who are younger in their career or younger in their practice of Lean, Six Sigma, or continuous improvement. That's one of my own reflections in terms of mistakes I've made, and being judgmental or critical of others when maybe I shouldn't have been.

Your favorite mistake, it's not necessarily your biggest mistake. If I asked people this question of, "What's your biggest mistake?" That might just be sad or depressing. The biggest mistake might be your favorite. A favorite is not necessarily you're biggest.

It's one that was important enough to stick with you. You remember it. You think about it. It's driven you to get better, at the least, not repeating that same mistake, but sometimes driving yourself to improve in more significant ways.

Matt Booze, pictured here, actually went to elementary school and middle school. He's from my hometown. He was involved in sales and consulting. When I asked him this question, his first thought was, "Why do I cherish this particular mistake?" It's just coincidental. It's the same word Greg Cody used. Why would you cherish a mistake?

Matt said, the story he told, "It's a mistake I think about all the time. Probably every day. Probably multiple times a day." It was a story about being behind on a project and not going to his boss for help. It was one thing to not tell his boss that they were behind schedule, that they were in the red, if you will.

His boss was upset that, "Hey, I could have helped you. I could have gotten this back on track." As Matt progressed in his own career, he's reflected on that. As a leader, you could lecture people for not coming to you. You could maybe go out of your way to make sure people feel comfortable coming to you when there's a problem, when you're behind schedule, or when there's a mistake.

When I've asked people this question, what's your favorite mistake? My very first guest on the podcast pictured to the left here, Kevin Harrington. He was on Season One of the show "Shark Tank." He was one of the sharks.

Love him or hate him for this. He was the inventor of the modern 30 minute infomercial. A lot of these as seen on TV products. George Foreman grill and Jack LaLanne juicers. Some of these products are old now.

When he was relatively new in this business, he was talking about a time when he was bringing in basically $2 million a week in revenue. He would come in every Monday. They would do a lot of their sales over the weekend. He would normally be handed the financials of how did we do last week?

One of these weeks there was a huge problem, where 1 out of the 12 products they were selling at the time, unfortunately, had a huge defect rate coming from their factory.

I really appreciated that Kevin Harrington. He doesn't have to publicly talk about mistakes. It's probably maybe a lot more fun to talk about all the amazing things you did.

He shared the mistake he made was that basically, the credit card payments for all 12 of these products were flowing through the same what they call merchant bank account.

With the high defect rates, the customer complaints and the chargebacks, the bank cut off the flow of money for everything. As he described in the episode, it put the survival of the company at risk.

He didn't blame anybody else for this, he took ownership of it. He set up multiple bank accounts and so each product would have its own flow. He learned from this, he adjusted, he made changes to the system that was his business.

In a way it was good that this mistake happened at a smaller scale so that he could learn from it and adapt and not have instead of a two million dollar problem something, it might have been a $200 million problem.

Kevin Harrington set that tone of somebody who is very successful, who was willing to come on and share and talk about a mistake.

My second guest pictured Will here was at the time, Representative Will Hurd. He retired from Congress at the end of 2020 from the State of Texas.

He told the story about the first time he ran for office in 2010. He won the primary, and he won in the sense that he had the most votes, but he didn't have more than 50 percent.

In the Texas system, he was going do a runoff against the second place candidate. His consultants told him, "Will, you need to change your strategy, a runoff is different than a primary election." Will said, and as he was willing to admit in the episode, "He thought he knew better."

He ignored his consultancy, basically continued the same strategy, because he's, "Well, I had a strategy that got the most votes in the primary, therefore that's a good strategy and we're going to keep doing it." He lost the runoff.

Again, there are so many people that would want to throw the consultant under the bus or blame them. Will Hurd took responsibility for his actions and the result. It was his mistake.

Now to his credit, because he recognized the mistake, he was willing to admit it and to reflect on it. He ran again and he won in 2014. He won reelection in 2016 and 2018.

Will Hurd, who's had an incredibly successful life as a CIA operative, he was the student body, president at Texas A&M University. I'm sure we have some Aggies watching and listening today. That's one of the key lessons in the takeaway here, that successful people are successful because they've learned from their mistakes.

I did a poll on LinkedIn, maybe about two months back, asking people if you think about the most highly successful people in your life. Now, different people will define highly successful differently. Compared to let's say the average person, which statement do you think is more accurate?

Are people successful because they make fewer mistakes because they make the same number of mistakes but they learn from them or that they make more mistakes therefore there's more learning?

I was a little surprised by the outcome. Maybe pleasantly surprised that 49 percent of the voters on LinkedIn, not a scientific sampling of the population, I realized 49 percent said people are successful when they make more mistakes and there's more learning.

A combined 87 percent would disagree with the statement that people are successful because they made fewer mistakes. It's interesting, especially, I mean, my followers on LinkedIn are dominated by continuous improvement, people like the audience for today's call.

There might be a bit of a bias there. If individuals recognize people are successful when we learn from mistakes, there's a question of, "Well, do organizations realize this?" If we recognize this as individuals, why do organizations tend to punish people for making mistakes? Maybe that's a question we'll figure out the answer to.

In the process of learning and turning mistakes into progress and growth and success, another lesson is to reflect on our mistakes, but don't agonize over them. How do we find the balance of thinking about it without being too hard on ourselves? Thinking about the mistake without dwelling on it as my guest, Katie Anderson said.

You may know her as the author of the great book, "Learning to Lead, Leading to Learn." I always make a mistake in saying that, even when I have the words right in front of me.

As Katie said, "If you keep dwelling on the mistake, then that's counterproductive." I think that's an important thing to keep in mind. We also want to make sure that we reflect, but at the right time. I interviewed a friend of mine from San Antonio, Lenny Walls. He played quarterback in the NFL and the Canadian Football League for a number of years.

He's got all kinds of businesses as an entrepreneur. I asked him, "As a football player, when you make a mistake, there would be, let's say, 80,000 people who saw the mistake in person, and that might be millions who saw the mistake on TV. How do you deal with that?"

He said, "Well, we were taught to have a short term memory. Because you make a mistake, and then you might not have to go out there immediately, seconds later, for the next play." Thinking in terms of Lean language, you might not be able to stop and do the immediate root cause analysis.

As Lenny said, making a lot of mistakes and trying to learn from them taught him a lot about bouncing back from failures. I love this phrase that he used, that failures were stepping stones toward winning.

Lenny described how when they would get to the sideline after they were off the field for that series, that was the time for reflection, or during halftime, after the game, or in practice the next week. Sometimes we have to figure out, when can we actually stop, pause, reflect, and learn? It might not be immediately in the moment.

A lot of this is really a matter of culture. How do we create a culture where it's safe to speak up about mistakes, which then I think leads to a culture of learning and improvement? One of my guests, Dr. David Mayer, told the story of when he was a resident anesthesiologist. There's a power differential between the attending surgeon and the resident anesthesiologist.

The surgeon cut into the wrong side of the patient. That is clearly a surgical mistake. The surgeon made a second mistake, which was more of a choice, in basically lying to the patient. Not admitting a mistake, but basically lying to the patient saying, "Hey, guess what? We found problems on both sides. You got two surgeries for the price of one." Pretty shocking.

I wouldn't fault him for this. He said his mistake was not speaking up. Not challenging the surgeon. Not telling the truth to the patient. Again, it's a matter of culture. That was a very hierarchical culture that would not have valued David speaking up. It might have threatened his young career.

This was a mistake he observed. It was a mistake he was a part of. Why was this his favorite mistake? It ignited a lifelong passion for him to be a leader in the patient safety movement. You see him pictured here for a while. He was the CEO of a nonprofit called The Patient Safety Movement.

He remains the executive director at the MedStar Institute for Quality and Safety. He can't go back in time and change what happened. He can't change what he did, but he can share that story in a way that I think helps others.

I've interviewed a number of people who were formerly at Toyota. I think it's interesting to compare the culture they have within Toyota. A culture that a lot of us here today would respect, if not try to emulate. Isao Yoshino, who I got to learn from in person in Japan back in 2012. He was the subject of that book that Katie Anderson wrote about his career and about his work.

In the episode, he retired after 40 years at Toyota. Mr. Yoshino said, "I've made so many mistakes in my entire life, both big and small." He told the story about when he joined Toyota in 1966. There was a four month orientation that included time in the factory. He was working in the paint shop.

Part of his job that he was told to do was to add paint and solvent together into a tank that would then be used to paint cars. People discovered a problem. The paint wasn't sticking to the body panels of the car. Mr. Yoshino had put the wrong solvent in. He had grabbed the wrong container. This meant 100 percent rework on those vehicles.

What did he learn and take away from the story? How did they respond? He said, "Nobody ever blamed me. They came to find the real cause of the problem. They could have easily blamed me, but they didn't. They focused on the lessons learned from the mistakes."

When we think how healthy and how constructive that is to not ruin his career or put him off of some fast track because of a human error. We look at this through a Lean lens, and say, well, "The process made it too easy for him to make that mistake. The process failed Mr. Yoshino."

His leaders recognize that. They said, "It is our mistake as leaders because we did not give you the detailed instruction." They said, "Don't worry. We have to figure out how to stop the same thing from happening again."

As Katie reflected, and here, you see Katie and Mr. Yoshino together as they collaborated on the book. Katie wrote in her book, "The only secret to Toyota is its attitude toward learning. Its people centered culture and culture of learning." That's about learning from mistakes and looking at the process, not just at the outcome.

We'd be better off in healthcare organizations if we were closer to that culture than we were to the culture that Dr. Mayer described when he was a resident. That's still sadly the culture in a lot of health care today.

Pictured here on the right, speaking of doctors, Greg Jacobson, our CEO and co founder here at KaiNexus, an emergency physician. In our conversation, when Greg was a guest on My Favorite Mistake, he pointed out and reminded us the belief that 85 percent of defects or errors are caused by an inaccurate adequate process. Only 15 percent are true human error.

Part of our reflections, thinking through, and talking about this is KaiNexians make mistakes. I make mistakes. We all make mistakes. Our CEO, back to Greg, makes mistakes.

One of the things that's great about his leadership, and this flows through into the KaiNexus culture, is that he's willing to admit them. As he said in our episode, "I don't have a problem talking about my mistakes. I'm glad you gave me a month to think about all the different mistakes people can learn from."

Greg is an overachiever. He talked about five favorite mistakes [laughs] from his career, not just one. Dan Pink, an author of a book a lot of you probably love. A book called "Drive" about intrinsic motivation and leadership. His most recent book is called "The Power of Regret."

In his episode, Dan shared this. He said, "I think there's something healthy, about leaders talking about their regrets with their team. Because again, I think that sets a clear example of making it safe for others to talk about their mistakes, and to respond in a way that's helpful, and healthy, and constructive, instead of being blaming and punitive."

As a KaiNexian, or even wearing other hats, I make mistakes. I make mistakes all the time. One thing that we've learned, Greg, I, and others, when we've made mistakes in the planning or execution of different webinars, is to turn those mistakes into a new line on the checklists that we use for the planning and execution of our webinars.

We started off with an initial checklist. Then as we've made new mistakes, as we've discovered new failure modes, we use the checklist to make sure we don't repeat the mistake again. We actually have a planning checklist. We have a day of webinar checklist. That's part of my planning and training to show Morgan how to be a host for these webinars, a role that I normally play.

When I think back to, this was February of 2021, I was the host for a panel discussion that was hosted and moderated by our good friend, Deondra Wardelle. Webinar was going great. There was so much great discussion and a lot of Q&A coming in from the audience.

I picture attendees out there watching, listening, and enjoying this thought provoking webinar. I was enjoying it as host. I was mostly listening and letting Deondra facilitate that conversation. We were ready to let it run a couple of minutes long because there was such rich discussion taking place.

Then we all saw this pop up on screen. "This meeting has been ended by host." I thought, "Wait a minute, I'm the host. What happened here?" I'll tell you a little bit more of the story here. The lesson and this is something I've worked hard to get better at, is to show grace when mistakes are made.

A couple of us did some investigation of trying to focus on, what happened? Not who did this, but what happened? If it wasn't me who clicked in the wrong place and ended the meeting, what happened? What can we learn from this? It turned out it was one of our KaiNexus team members.

This was the mistake on my part and on our part as an organization. He was sharing the webinar account because he was occasionally doing other webinars. He had scheduled a meeting and started that meeting not realizing a webinar was taking place, which killed the webinar prematurely.

I tried to react in a kind way toward that KaiNexian. Deondra did just the same. She sent an email here. "I'm sure the person involved feels horrible. Please let him know I'm not upset. We can classify what happened as an opportunity for learning and improving."

Even from what happened there, there was a lesson around remembering to ask, "How are you feeling?" Before you jump into the five whys. Of giving somebody space to feel bad, and then to get over that as you try to encourage them and let them know, "We're not blaming you. Let's learn from this. It was a systemic error that was bound to happen sooner or later."

Another thing I will take responsibility for here is that I lost the opportunity previously to make sure that small mistakes prevented big mistakes. This is only true if you take action and if you take the right action. Let me explain what happened here.

Through bad luck. My gosh. I've apologized to Deondra about this many times. A previous webinar panel discussion that she had hosted in October 2020 was going fine. Then that same person had tried joining as attendee. Again because we were sharing that Zoom webinar's account when he joined, he popped up as a panelist. Like, "Oh, hey, surprise panelist."

Now, he realized it very quickly. He was like, "Oh." He was panicking. He bailed out quickly. Nobody noticed. Here was part of the follow up. Deondra. "Hey, we figured out what happened. He thought he was joining as a guest, but he was logged in. He apologizes. I told him it was no big deal."

The countermeasure that we had agreed on, he said, "He'll just watch the recordings," because that would then eliminate the risk of joining incorrectly as the panelist. It turns out that wasn't the right countermeasure.

If we had realized that there was risk inherent in sharing the Zoom account, which, by the way, Zoom tech support told us you shouldn't be doing that, because we talked to them about, "Hey, could there be some other systemic fixes in place?" and they said the fix was, "Don't share the account." Like, "OK. Lesson learned."

But, if we had learned the lesson in October 2020, we would have avoided putting others in that position in February 2021.

Stepping back beyond KaiNexus and our mistakes, I think another key lesson here is creating the culture takes effort, it takes time.

Keith Ingels, who is a continuous improvement leader at a company that's part of Toyota industries, he said in his episode, "It's a lot of work to create that culture, but it's worth it."

Part of that culture is again, creating an environment. We can't just tell people, you should speak up, you should admit things. We can't just tell people, you should feel safe. We need to make it possible that they feel safe, which again, comes back to the culture.

Dr. Nicole Lipkin, a psychologist and executive coach, when she was a guest on the podcast said, "As leaders, you have to promote investing the behaviors that lead to psychological safety."

You can't just say, you should feel psychologically safe. That doesn't work any more than saying, I have an open door policy as a leader, nobody ever comes in the office, because the first time someone did, they got yelled at.

You can't blame people for not having psychological safety any more than you could blame them for not taking advantage of your supposed open door policy. "It's not a one and done initiative," she pointed out, "It takes time."

Billy Taylor, a great Lean leader, a former Goodyear executive when he was a guest, he talked about shaping the culture and using standards, and how the leader sets the standard for the organization.

I know Billy did this. Greg Jacobson does that as the leader of KaiNexus, as one of our leaders.

Another example I love of leaders setting the tone comes from a distillery that's located about an hour west of Austin called Garrison Brothers. On the right, you see the founder and CEO, Dan Garrison, and on the left is the master distiller, Donnis Todd.

They both came on the podcast. Donnis talked about this element of their culture, of making it safe for people to own up to mistakes. When people have made mistakes, they will sign their names of the part of the wall where the mistake happened.

Donnis, as being someone who reports to the CEO, is working really hard to create a culture where it's safe to admit mistakes and to improve from that. Donnis told the story in the podcast where, long story short, he had overaged some bourbon.

He was aging it because his hypothesis was that it would keep getting better the longer he aged it. That's true until you hit a point where it's no longer better. He basically dumped thousands and thousands of dollars worth of whiskey.

Dan didn't fire him. Dan emphasized the learning. As Donnis said, "Dan has always been willing to give me the time to learn from my mistakes." In the podcast Dan shared a story of his own mistakes again, admitting mistakes is very helpful, and then not jumping to blame and punishment when people had made mistakes.

That leads to a culture of learning and a culture of continuous improvement.

David Meier, pictured here, a former Toyota leader, coauthor of two of the books in the "Toyota Way" series with Jeff Liker. He's now distilling in Kentucky. He reflected on his time at Toyota and says, "Here's the ideal, that Toyota operates a no fault, no blame culture."

He said, "Now kids," at least in his experience, and I think a lot of this happens, "Kids are brought up with the idea of find fault and place blame." Maybe schools or other influences drive that. As David said, "It took a couple of years to clear my brain of the impulse to blame the worker." As with any change, it's easier said than done.

We can tell ourselves logically, "I'm going to stop blaming people for mistakes. I'm going to look at systems. I'm going to be more constructive," but sometimes old habits die hard. As Keith Ingels, again, from one of those Toyota Industries companies, said, "We have a process that we go through of unlearning, and we teach that mistakes are positive."

That takes a while, I think, to really fully embrace that. It takes a while to make that part of the culture.

Back to David Meyer. He would say back to his time as plant president or his time at Toyota, the plant president would ask, "What have we learned today?" David shared a story about a similar mistake he made of putting the wrong chemical into a machine.

Hey. I'm sorry. That's fine. [laughs] Gosh. My mistake is not putting a sign on the door saying, "Please don't come in. I'm doing a webinar."

David made the mistake of putting the wrong chemical into a machine when he was making bumpers. It was an $8.3 million loss. Instead of blaming and punishing David, it was a matter of learning. A matter of figuring out, why did the process allow that to occur?

Back to Donnis Todd. One. One last quote from Garrison Brothers. He said, "There's something about your character growing when you own up to your mistakes." That requires a culture. That requires an environment where it's safe for that to really occur.

To wrap up here a little bit, to talk about and remind ourselves, we all make mistakes. Krista Hughes, who I interviewed in the podcast series. She is a nurse. She's become a patient advocate who works with patients to follow up on medical errors when they occur.

There's a video clip on the page that I'll share the link to again in a minute. You have to see her say it in the video. I'm not going to try to do on the Southern accent, but imagine this in a Southern accent. She said at the end of her episode, "Well, if you don't think you make mistakes then, oh, gosh, bless your heart."

Those of you who are familiar, like, "Oh, in the South, bless you're..." That's not as nice of a sentiment as it sounds on the surface. That's the Southern use of the phrase, bless your heart. We all do make mistakes. We can try to learn how to be kind to ourselves. Some of us lead people, who because they're people, will make mistakes.

Karen Ross, who I interviewed in episode three of the podcast, reminds us. I recommend her book, "The Kind Leader." We all have the opportunity to lead with kindness. I would argue it's not just kindness. I would argue it's good business when we react constructively when people make mistakes.

It's a pet peeve of mine when people say, "Oh, the root cause of that problem was human error." If that's your conclusion, keep asking why? Why was it too easy for human error to cause a defect or a problem in the process?

I'm inspired by a lot of what Karen says. On the back of this coffee mug are some phrases and mantras. I put it on the coffee mug to remind myself of these things. I think these are worth remembering. Be kind to yourself, and maybe also to others. Be first kind to yourself. Nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes. What's important is learning from our mistakes.

I'm going to learn from some of the mistakes I made here. Managing access to my door and not putting a sign on...Quick story before I hand it over back to you, Morgan.

On the checklist, it actually says, for the context of somebody working at home where they have kids, or being in the office with other people around, the checklist actually says put a sign on the door that says, "Webinar in progress Do Not Disturb."

I didn't think that part of the checklist was relevant to me, but my mistake. Lesson learned. With that, thank you again. You can find all sorts of links to the podcast episodes, the video of Krista. You can find all that and more at markgraban.com/kainexus2022.

Before Q&A, Morgan, let me turn it over to you for some announcements.

Morgan:  Thank you again for that excellent presentation, Mark. I'm seeing one question. Everybody, please keep submitting any questions or feel free to share a favorite mistake that comes to mind.

Starting off with some announcements. Our upcoming webinars, you can register at www.kainexus.com/webinars. Our next webinar is actually this Thursday. It's our training team office hours for KaiNexus customers only, hosted by our new training manager, Brittany. That will take place, as I said, this Thursday, June 30th, at 1:00 PM Eastern Time.

Please check out our webinar recordings library as well. Here, you can find past training sessions, as well as Mark's webinars, as well as other webinars that we've posted.

Of course our blogs. Don't forget to subscribe, or just go check out our blog. We have our improvement blog, as well as our customer blog. Check out our website to subscribe. You can get that sent to your email.

Then our podcast. Finally, we invite you to check out our podcast series. Please listen, subscribe, rate, and review via your favorite podcast app. You could find out more at kainexus.com/podcasts. Audio from today's webinar will be there as well.

Now, we'll go ahead and we'll jump into Q&A.

Mark:  Great. While it's still coming out, I was going to share just one other reflection real quick. When I say I agreed to, I signed myself up to present this webinar today. Asking Morgan to again play host.

The last two weeks, my wife and have been moving. Packing up from an old home. Coming almost all the way across the country. Getting settled into a new home. I thought, "My gosh, if I do it on that day, there's a risk that I'm going to have some sort of distraction, or something, or whatever." I didn't know what exactly that was going to be. Sure enough.

Maybe I'll talk to you about this afterward, Morgan, if you want me to leave in your part about asking you and putting you on the spot about a favorite mistake. I'll leave in the parts of the webinar where I had to leave and go attend to the door, and oops. It goes, a webinar about mistakes. I shouldn't try to edit my mistakes out of my life. [laughs]

Morgan:  I like that idea, Mark. We have a few questions here in the Q&A.

Mark:  Hi, it's Mark Graban here again. Ironically enough, given the topic of this webinar, the Q&A session, a minute or two in, was interrupted and knocked offline by a series of mistakes and technical challenges. A mistake of my own. A mistake or two by the contractor who is working in my home.

The Q&A will be recorded --> Video of the Q&A


Thank you for those questions that you submitted. It will be available on our YouTube channel. You will also receive an email notification letting you know when it's available and a link to that.

I plan on writing a blog post. It'll either be published on Lean Blog or the KaiNexus blog, sharing some reflections about mistakes that led to the interruptions during the webinar. Again, trying to reflect on what I could have done differently and to share my best efforts to show grace in the face of mistakes.

Here is that post.

Again, thank you for attending live, or thank you for watching this recording. I hope today's session is illustrated. We're all human. Mistakes are going to happen. The key is how we react to those mistakes and that we learn and we move forward. Keep learning from our mistakes. Thanks.

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