Can I make mistakes?

In theory everyone can make mistakes. Probably everyone know at least one very smart quote about making mistakes. Let’s take a look at some examples.

  • “The important thing in my view is not to pin the blame for a mistake on somebody, but rather to find out what caused the mistake.” Akio Morita (b.1921). Made in Japan, (1987), p. 149.””
  • “Those who make no mistakes are making the biggest mistakes of all — they are attempting nothing new.” Anthony de Mello, One Minute Nonsense (1992), p. 20.
  • “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” John Powell, The Secret of Staying in Love (1990), p. 85.

Do you hear about these quotes? Do you like them? I think that IT developers love them ;) Our managers never understands us. We are trying to finish our projects before deadlines but there are many problems during the development, e.g: code which we get from someone else is a piece of crap or business requirements changed many times.

I admit that it is hard to work with a code that we couldn’t understand. Of course also frequent changes don’t help. That’s true. In such situations, software engineers often treat symptoms because it is the most simple solution, often the only possible. We are creating more and more patches, wrappers, adapters to “fix” the code we get. To fix or to work around possible errors.

Take a look at the picture and think. We are working hard, creating a lot of patches because other people make mistakes, so…… and here we have no doubts: we can trust only ourselves. We don’t know why other people make silly mistakes but we know that we don’t make them.  In that case the only way to get rid of the problems with the people who make mistakes, is to control them more than before. Of course not to control them to show our power but to predict their inappropriate behaviour ;) One moment… what about the things we aren’t aware of? Maybe our partners didn’t finish their work before deadline because they were waiting for our answers or feedback? Someone may say, why they were waiting? This is a very good question. If we ask about this we may hear many different answers. Sometimes people don’t want to decide, sometimes they may follow the company impractical procedures. Furthermore, both sides can be upset because the deadline is coming. Despite exactly the same goal, both sides are mad at each other. Strange, isn’t it?

I think that many people don’t realize that additional control, daily reports lead to the disorganization of work. Controlled employees are afraid to make even very simple decisions without asking. Take a look at an example.

“Hi. I hope you are doing well on holiday. Unfortunately we have a problem here. Our partners probably won’t finish their work on time. I think that we could sent them an e-mail like […]. Maybe this will help them ;) What do you think about this? I’m waiting for your answer ;)”

Did you get such e-mails? Did you ever write something similar? What does it mean exactly? In my opinion this e-mail can be translated into: “Hi. Our partners probably won’t finish their work on time. I don’t want to be responsible for this so please write what should I do? Happy holiday ;)

What do you think about making mistakes? What do you think about teaching people how to correct mistakes and not repeat them in the future?

“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.”


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