February 28, 2007

We got it wrong

This post was last updated on September 5th, 2011 at 11:06 am

Something Rick Schwier, my grad advisor and fellow posse member said years ago that stuck with me. Education doesn’t do a very good job of documenting or discussing failures.

Howard Schultz, chairman of Starbucks recently sent out a memo admitting mistakes he has made in the directing his company.

…I have provided you with a list of some of the underlying issues that I believe we need to solve, let me say at the outset that we have all been part of these decisions. I take full responsibility myself, but we desperately need to look into the mirror and realize it’s time to get back to the core and make the changes necessary to evoke the heritage, the tradition, and the passion that we all have for the true Starbucks experience. While the current state of affairs for the most part is self induced, that has lead to competitors of all kinds, small and large coffee companies, fast food operators, and mom and pops, to position themselves in a way that creates awareness, trial and loyalty of people who previously have been Starbucks customers. This must be eradicated.

You can read the specifics in the memo itself but it struck me that he was able to identify specific decisions that he felt good about at the time but later saw they weren’t the right ones.

Looking back I’ve made a pile of mistakes and hopefully learned from them but I don’t often document them. If there’s one overiding mistake I make but hopefully less than I used to is my tendency to walk too fast. I do that even with my kids, I constantly have to slow down. (Isn’t there a song about that?) My tendency is to jump quickly from one idea to the next without recognizing the need to process. I did document it here. This certainly isn’t the only mistake and while it’s not very specific, it’s helpful to others and to our own learning to document and examine our mistakes.

I’ve never seen a school or school district or government come out and admit their mistakes. Seems odd that in an age of transparency, or at least a shift towards more transparency that educators are reluctant to admit mistakes. Maybe it isn’t so odd but shouldn’t we see someone out there bold enough to admit to their errors? Can someone point me to some? Can you be so bold as to post your own errors?

[tags]starbucks,schwier,mistakes,educationalreform,[/tags]