All through school we are taught that making a mistake is a bad thing. We are downgraded for them. When we graduate and enter the real world and the" organizations that occupy it, the aversion to mistakes continues. As a result one tries"either to avoid them or, if one is made, to conceal it or transfer blame to another. We pay a high price for this because one can only learn from mistakes; by identifying and correcting them.
One does not learn from doing something right; one already knows how to do it. By doing something right one gets confirmation of what one already knows but no new knowledge. (I told the Innovation College class this last week but I don't think they bought it) The fact that schools are more interested in teaching than in learning is apparent from their failure to determine if students learn from their mistakes. Once they are graded based on the number of mistakes they make, the teacher presses on, does not check to determine whether the student has learned from the mistakes made.
Schools, including business schools, do not even reveal the fact that there are two kinds of mistakes.
Errors of commission: doing something that should not have been done.
Errors of omission: not doing something that should have been done.
Errors of omission, lost opportunities, are generally more critical than errors of commission. Organizations fail or decline more frequently because of what they did" not do than because of what they did.
The type of accounting that all organizations use accounts for only the lesser" important errors, those of commission. If something wrong is done, it eventually shows up in the books. For example, when Kodak bought Sterling Drugs and eventually had to sell it, the loss involved was conspicuous in its books. But errors of omission never appear “in the books.” The fact that Kodak failed to acquire Xerox when it could have, never appears in its books.