By Steve Moran

This is the 2nd installment in a series of articles about lessons from the Ritz Carlton. To get the full context, I refer you to the first article in the series, The Little Things That Would Astound Your Residents and Prospects. 

Would You Be Willing to Ask This in Your Stand-Up Meeting?

I frequently talk to senior living leaders who tell me with justifiable pride that they have a healthy culture of failure. I have come to believe that maybe that is not really true. I mostly think they have a culture of experimentation. What I mean by that is that they are willing to try new things, new ideas, new ways of doing things, and they accept that a certain number of them, maybe even a large number, will fail.

I am not sure that is a real culture of failure. In my mind, a culture of failure is one where individual people blow it and do damage to the organization in some way. It is also a willingness to, on a daily, weekly, monthly basis ask this question:

Where did we fail yesterday?

Followed by:

How do we fix it?

Not as Easy as It Sounds

Your first thought may be, this is a no brainer, too simple or you might think, not quite those words but we actually do that. Maybe that is true, but likely not as much as you think. Every single day in every single organization failures occur and most are not noticed by anyone except the person or small group of people involved. If it is of little or no consequence, it is really easy not to talk about it, because talking about it is always embarrassing.

I get all of that, but . . .

These are amazing teachable moments. The hard part is that it has to start with the leader confessing his or her failures and being open about fixing them. There has to be a culture that allows the whole team to talk about those failures as teachable moments that help grow individuals and the organization.

This means that leaders need to be able to talk about failures in a more public, but non-condemning way. Leaders need to be willing to take the heat with grace when they fail.

If you are a regular reader of Senior Living Foresight, you will know that I have a couple of special talents in this area. First, I am really good at failing. I hate it. I am embarrassed by it. And probably, (I hope) I am no worse than average.

I am also pretty good at talking about my failures. You have read about some of them here. I write about them because I believe failures are powerful ways to learn. They are also powerful ways to help others learn without having to fail.

How is your culture?

Can you ask these two questions safely in your organization? 

Please note this does not apply to employee discipline situations. There are some things that for good reasons that can’t be talked about.