Building The Ability To Recover

“Rather than trying to prevent all errors, we should assume, as is almost always the case, that our people’s intentions are good and that they want to solve problems. Give them responsibility, let the mistakes happen, and let people fix them. If there is fear, there is a reason – our job is to find the reason and to remedy it. Management’s job is not to prevent risk but to build the ability to recover.” – Ed Catmull

This quote made me think about the time when I managed a team of consultants. On the whole matters were fine but occasionally I’d get a problem where I’d have to step in and sort things out (with the customer and consultant). Most of the issues were ‘people problems’, personality conflicts and so on.

Looking back, partly due to the hectic pace of work, I mostly adopted the approach of ‘patch and move on’ whilst bearing in mind to avoid similar situations in the future (by allocating different staff). However this didn’t resolve the underlying problem. As the quote above highlights, it’s sometimes best to identify the underlying reason and then try to remedy it (with the person concerned) even if this can be a time-consuming process.

The quote above was spotted on Brain Pickings.


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