- Why is the opportunity or freedom to make mistakes crucial to learning?
Failure identifies what an individual did not do well and hence creates an opportunity for competency development. Success, on the other hand, reinforces an individual positively thus crucial in learning. However, it is the role of failure in learning that has been constantly overlooked. While success will show what a person can do well, failure demonstrates what the individual is unable to do well hence an opportunity to learn. An individual can learn his/her limits with failure and see the need for improvement. The lack of failure can plunge an individual into thinking they are perfect with no competency limits. As such, this individual will not see the need for competency development. Dyson learned the importance of failing from his former employer Jeremy Fry. Fry taught Dyson two crucial aspects of failure. First, people learn quickly when given room to make mistakes, and secondly, mistrust experience. The former happens when people learn from these mistakes rather than just assume them. As such, mistakes are present basic learning points. Experience tends to make people and organizations loathe innovation which is a product of failure.
- How can the opportunity or freedom to make mistakes contribute to performance improvement?
Making mistakes gives one an opportunity to experience firsthand what works and what does not work. This experience is more rewarding than simply watching others make mistakes and perpetual success because it enables one to identify his/her developmental needs and see the need for further development. Dyson experienced this firsthand when he was working on his bag-less vacuum cleaner. He failed 5,127 times before finally inventing what would become the number one selling vacuum cleaner in the United Kingdom (Nelson & Quick, 2013). The opportunity to make mistakes allows an individual to take risks, innovate, and undertake experimentation. Performance improvement occurs when an individual successfully undertakes these three elements. Avoiding making mistakes creates a safe haven but neglects performance improvement because people will only improve where they feel inadequate after identifying their competency development needs. Sustained performance improvements occur in an environment of mistakes, risk-taking, innovation, and experimentation.
- What advice do you think James Dyson would give to a recent college graduate who is just starting his/her career?
Starting a career straight after college is often a cumbersome task since a lot is expected. Most careers will require some form of experience before giving one the opportunity to work. As a beginner in one’s career-making mistakes is often regarded as taboo and often recent graduates do their best to avoid mistakes. As a result, they end up gaining experience while neglecting performance improvement. Dyson would advise such an individual to develop a tolerance for making mistakes and view them positively. Moreover, he would encourage college graduates to learn from the mistakes they make, take risks, make innovations, and experiment. Whether the established experts in their careers support them or not, they should pursue innovation at all costs. Innovation is both rewarding and financially satisfying in the long term.
- What advice do you think James Dyson would give to someone would is in charge of training people and evaluating their performance?
Dyson would advise trainers and evaluators to grant their trainees opportunities to make mistakes. They should then help them learn valuable lessons from these mistakes. Moreover, Dyson would advise these such people to encourage their trainees to constantly pursue competency development and work hard towards achieving their goals. They should not substitute risk-taking and innovation for anything else in the path towards achieving their goals. Dyson would also advise these trainers and evaluators to persevere with the mistakes their trainees make and motivate them to become and do better. They should never overlook any mistake but instead, view it as a learning opportunity.
Nelson, D. L., & Quick, J. C. (2013). Organizational behavior: Science, the real world, and you. Cengage learning.