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Growing from the mistakes we make

In this month?s Association for Psychological Science magazine there is an interesting piece on learning, which outlines strategies for learning more quickly and effectively within educational and work settings. The studies illustrate how adopting a particular mindset, for example, can impact at the cellular, the behavioural and even the organisational level. The great news is that there are certain things individuals and organisations can do which have an impact on motivation and resilience, and they can also make a difference to how profitable a company might be.

The article presented different, but related, strands of research from the APS 20th annual conference, most of the findings are related in different ways to Carol Dweck?s work on mindsets.  One of the most interesting presentation was from Michael Frese based at the London Business School. 

Frese has been looking at the impact of mindset on organisations. For example, many organisations encourage a philosophy where no errors are allowed and people must avoid mistakes at all costs.   While this might be necessary in cases such as air traffic control for example, what Frese has found is that this is not enough.  He has revealed that those organisations who also focus on treating errors or mistakes as learning opportunities, experiences to improve on and grow from, tend to have much better strategies in the future and recover quicker after setbacks.  Not only this, but the growth environment encourages exploration and enjoyment within staff.  Frese has found that companies who focus more on learning from  mistakes had a 25% chance to be among the most highly profitable companies in contrast to 6% in the low ?learning from error? group.

Other work, carried out by Amy Edmondson, looked at teams in hospitals and found that learning from mistakes was one of the key factors associated with highly successful teams.  So too was an appeal to the evidence.  Very effective teams were more likely to adopt procedures supported by high levels of evidence. And those who practiced the procedures were more successful in implementing them.

The article has some other useful pieces of research also relevant to those who are interested in the issues of motivation and resilience, in education and in the workplace. To read the article click here.


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