The Culture of Learning from One's Mistakes

anja svetina nabergoj

Innovation does not just happen. It requires stepping out of the comfort zone into the zone of the unknown and risky. Besides, to achieve successful innovation in a company, it is necessary to introduce playfulness and greater freedom, and allow the employees to continue to search for new solutions even if they fail at first. Encouraging learning from one's mistakes is something that, in my opinion, is the most difficult to change, since people are ashamed and hiding from each other their lack of knowledge or failure. I believe in the power of empathy and in-depth understanding of the user for successful development and implementation of innovation also in Slovenia.

Out of 4,000 initial radically innovative ideas, only two to three will stand the test of generation, incubation and growth, shows the study by Prof. Sutton from Stanford. This means that a company must simultaneously develop a wide portfolio of innovative projects, as the rate of conversion into projects that will remain and grow is very low. The importance of being a good example is demonstrated by the owner and director of the company I cooperate with. After completing Stanford eduction, he decided to change the innovation method in his company, so as to enable it to remain the leading provider in its branch. He knew that the only way to change the modus operandi of all 50,000 employees was, in addition to conceiving a new innovation strategy for the company, to assume changes in his way of working himself. The next day he flew to China, where he himself conducted several in-depth interviews with both key customers and sales officers in his company. All in order to learn where there are the most challenges in the sales and where are innovation opportunities. This was only the beginning. Him and the core management have remained the main change drivers, supported by dedicated employees who are not afraid to attempt new ways of work.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Anja Svetina Nabergoj, Faculty of Economics, University of Ljubljana, and Stanford University