Is making mistakes good for your company?

At a small company, mistakes aren't bad. They're important. Mistakes are a sign that a company's employees move fast, explains Dan Levin, chief operating officer of Box, a Los Altos, Calif.-based content sharing company, in a recent post for Entrepreneur. Young companies need to prioritize speed to compete today, making mistakes a necessary byproduct of a highly productive and efficient workplace.
"As leaders, maximum throughput, not perfection, is what we should be solving for," Levin writes. "Mistakes are a cost, but speed is a benefit. It's critical to understand that at some point in your efforts to minimize mistakes, you're going to lose out on maximizing workplace productivity and efficiency."
Levin says Box follows four guidelines to cultivate a culture of fast work and embrace the mistakes that come with it. We've excerpted them below:
  1. Tell everyone upfront that mistakes will not only be accepted, but are in fact critical in the interest of speed, so long as the mistakes are made in good faith, not repeated, and promptly fixed.
  2. Reinforce the message by announcing a couple of your own mistakes — at least to your own team — and celebrating their rapid repair.
  3. Don't send conflicting messages by flogging people for honest mistakes. Fix the problem, not the blame and take the opportunity to remind the team that mistakes are valued over the price of speed.
  4. Promote those who get the most useful work done, not the ones who make the least mistakes.
"If you run fast," Levin concludes, "you'll stumble from time to time. Convince your team that the occasional stumble is worth it and will be saluted rather than censured."
 
About the writer: Alison Griswold is a reporter for Business Insider's Strategy section. She has previously written for Thomson Reuters, Forbes and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and holds a bachelor's degree in English from Yale University. 
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