It is often said that everyone make mistakes and it is understood that everyone hates mistakes. Mistakes can be costly in more ways than one. They can lead to serious consequences. Businesses lose customers and credibility, hospitals lose patients, and some lose their jobs over errors. So who in their right mind would even begin to suggest embracing mistakes? Well, there is “Wrongologist,” Kathryn Schulz. In her book, “Being Wrong,” Schulz advocates for a new approach where errors are acknowledged and embraced in an effort to improve upon practices and processes.
Humans make mistakes and computers don’t – except in the case of “garbage in, garbage out.” The reason for this is that humans have the power of inductive reasoning and computers have circuitry. Ask a human to complete the sentence – “A long and winding ———–.” The answer is most likely to be, “road.” Ask a computer and it would process the possibilities from long and winding ski hill, to river, to line at the movie theater, possibly unable to give an answer. Ultimately, by reason of reasoning, a human is as likely to be right or wrong about something. Such wrongness is not necessarily failure but a sign of creativity and intelligence.
The author believes that if organizations and individuals accept that mistakes happen and set out to analyze and understand them, this can lead to improvements in our systems. Rather than demonizing and shaming those who err we should seek to understand the nature of the error and only then will we be able to create safer and more reliable systems. Such an approach could save time, money and headaches for organizations big and small. Of course some mistakes are more easily accepted than others.