“Better by Mistake: The Unexpected Benefits of Being Wrong” by Alina Tugend is a non-fiction book which tries to explain how dealing with mistakes can benefit you and your work. While this book might be categorized as self-help, I found it to be more than that and thought provoking as well.
- 304 pages
- Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1594487855
While “Better by Mistake: The Unexpected Benefits of Being Wrong” by Alina Tugend (Website | Twitter | Facebook) might be categorized as a self-help book, I found it to be more of a business book or social commentary than the self-help kind.
Ms. Tugend focuses on the hypocritical nature of our society when it comes to the subject at hand and how one is able to overcome the ingrained philosophy which we were taught. I found it very refreshing to take an honest look into our society where we are told to learn from our mistakes, yet get penalized and punished when we make them.
It was inspirational to read, an honest look at the cover-your-ass (CYA) culture we have become. How do people spend more energy deflecting mistakes, covering them, or avoiding them instead of owning up, apologizing, and learning something out of their faux pas. You can open up any paper on almost any given day and see how the political class in this country is bungling its way through avoidance and deflection, usually making a mockery out of themselves, the system, and the people they are supposed to represent.
The author gives an overview of how successful individuals, or more likely industries, handle mistakes. In hospitals, airlines, schools and other industries handling mistakes do not necessarily invoke immediate punishment and after all, not all mistakes are equal.
I read this book after taking a week-long CMMI course which is meant to teach one how to find mistakes in the initial phases of a project and learn from them. While I certainly recognize the importance of establishing a standard operating procedure (SOP), I also recognize the love affair many managers have with checklists. This love affair is so prevalent that in many cases the checklist becomes the project regardless of the product it supposes to produce.
The other issue I had in the back of my mind read is that while industries can make all the lists they want but if they ignore data then all their checklists are useless. For example, airlines consider being “on time” if the airplane leaves the gate on time even if it’s just a few feet – but it doesn’t matter if the passengers wait on the tarmac for three hours; or hospitals don’t check incoming patients for MRSA virus because they simply don’t want to know if you got it at their hospital.
MRSA virus is a hospital virus and could be lethal!
I did enjoy reading this book, it is thought-provoking and the studies the author quotes are interesting and present a point that goes well with the book’s theme. Better yet, I felt as if I learned something which could be practical not only for me but for my family as well.
So tell me, do you learn from your mistakes or are you busy covering them up?
Journalist Alina Tugend examines what it means to make mistakes, how we pay for them, and the hypocritical nature of our society when it comes to learning from them.
Zohar – Man of la Book
Disclaimer – I got this book for free
*Amazon links point to an affiliate account, the money is usually spent on books
- The Self-Publishing Boom (eyeonbooks.com)
- Better By Mistake: An Interview with Alina Tugend (psychcentral.com)
- You need to make mistakes to get ahead (cnn.com)
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