“If you ever forget what you were doing wrong, you’ll keep doing the same things that kept you there in the first place!” – Futurist Jim Carroll
Yesterday I had a post about the need to acknowledge our mistakes – if we don’t, we can’t move forward.
But it isn’t just admitting to mistakes that’s important – the process of remembering them can always provide us with the fortitude, courage, and strength we need to continue going forward. Remembering helps us to build a barrier that prevents us from going back and is a powerful fuel to keep us moving forward.
There’s a song from the ’80s that features the memorable line: “Always something there to remind me.” That has become a meme in my mind, always reminding me to keep moving forward, and never going back. But it also tells me that in my push to go forward, I should always also be looking back, because that will remind me of where I do not want to go. That’s because, for me, there are routines to be avoided, actions to be abandoned and lessons to be learned.
The same powerful guidance can apply to our efforts to instill innovation in an organization because we can fall into the trap of making the same mistakes over and over again. We know that this is the case when my audiences indicate, through text message polling from the stage, that the most common excuse they have in place is this one: “You can’t do that because we’ve always done it this way!” That’s one of the worst phrases used in the world of business today.
The problem with that type of cultural cornerstone is that if mistakes are being made – in daily routines, product development, customer service, supply chain initiatives – the same mistake will be made over and over and over again. And if you don’t set out to fix that mistake, the internal memory of the organization dooms you to the routine repetition of failure.
Corporate memory is a dangerous thing – it lets us put things on autopilot, often forgetting why we are doing them in the first place. It leads us into a situation in which people keep doing the same things but no one remembers why they are being done.
That’s why acknowledging failure is such a crucial step – it helps you become aware of what you should not be doing. But remembering failure is just as equally important since it reminds you that you never should want to go back to where you were – you should only ever want to be going to where you could be going!