November 4, 2022 | Marcus Miller

Are the Mistakes People Make Evidence of Character Flaws or System Weaknesses?

character flaws

I found a quote by Lucian Leape in a book called When We Do Harm that I thought was worth sharing. Leape says in order to get past the corrective actions of discipline and re-training, you have to dig deeper into the systems that are supposed to help people perform well. According to Leape, for that to happen, “Errors must be accepted as evidence of systems flaws, not character flaws” by management.

I think Leape hit the nail on the head. When we view mistakes people make as character flaws, we try to fix the character flaws with discipline, re-training and trying to make the job idiot-proof by creating or adding to policies and procedures. We will never be able to fix people but we can fix system weaknesses that allow people to fail.

Another quote I coincidently ran into that same day, was by Sam Dalio. His principle of the day on his LinkedIn page was: “Create a culture in which it’s okay to make mistakes and unacceptable not to learn from them.” He goes on to point out that if you can create that culture, you’ll see significantly more improvement and fewer significant errors.

Are You Trying to “Fix” Character Flaws in Your Workers?

If you believe Sam and Lucian are on to something, those of us who conduct TapRooT® Training wholeheartedly agree. The TapRooT® Methodology and RCA tools will help you identify the mistakes people make, help you dig deeper into the system to gather the evidence needed for an effective RCA, and then identify the specific system weakness that allowed the mistake to be made. TapRooT® Training will also help you create impactful corrective actions to strengthen the system’s weaknesses identified. TapRooT® Training helps you learn from mistakes so every mistake made will lead to continuous improvement.

Our goal is to get away from seeing mistakes as character flaws. Instead, we want to view those mistakes as evidence of system weaknesses to improve the culture and the performance of our people. If you would like to see an Executive Briefing and Demo to help you understand how the TapRooT® Methodology and standardized RCA tools work, you can request a briefing here at the bottom of the page.

Human Performance
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