Admitting mistakes is the first step to learning, not just for you, but also for your team and company

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Here is an excellent piece from the blog Evolving excellence about how a worker at Toyota battled his fear of admitting a mistake and was rewarded by his pears and supervisor for not hiding, but rather disclosing the mistake he had done.

Admitting you committed a mistake is a very important part of continuous improvement. The andon cord (a sort of error alarm) should be pulled as soon as an mistake/error/defect is created or found.

Finding mistakes is not a blame game in Lean thinking, it is a key part of finding ways to avoid mistakes altogether through poka-yoke or mistake proofing our work methods!

Behind this willingness to show and learn from mistakes we make are some concepts in the Toyota Product System (TPS):

  1. If the student has not learned the professor has not taught.
  2. Most mistakes are caused by the situation or the system and not by people’s incompetence or willingness to do their best.
  3. Respect for people (one of the key pillars of the TPS)

These concepts together with other key concepts in TPS allow people to concentrate and focus on continuous improvement and not play the very ineficient and unproductive blame game that mostly impedes learning.

Updated: with a link to the Respect for people principle in Toyota’s website.

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