Making the Most Success From a Failure

By Doug Fabbioli

Making the Most Success From a Failure

As you may know, I tend to enjoy watching movies. At the end of Apollo 13, the mission was described as a successful failure, in that the astronauts did not land on the moon but they did get back home safely. The work that was done to bring those space boys home not only inspired a blockbuster movie, but added to the improvements in safety, process and development of NASA and all their future programs. They were able to make the most of their broken space ship.

I am certainly not a rocket scientist. And my team of farmers have not gone through an aviation engineering school. But we want to keep getting better, learn from our mistakes and grow our farms and clients in a way that we continue to find success. We have had a couple of incidents lately that have not been good but could be used as great learning opportunities. I was alerted to a situation the other day when a car was found in one of our muddy hop yards. Remember the old adage, “When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging”? This driver crossed over 5 rows of hops and stopped when the tangled irrigation lines and wires had the car tied up like calf at the rodeo. We have work ahead of us in order to get the yard repaired for the growing season. The driver has some work to do with the insurance company in order to get the repairs done and paid for. This incident is a great way for us to learn from others. “Don’t try this at home!” But as we know, stuff happens and learning the decision making process is important so small stuff doesn’t turn into big stuff.

We use a lot of equipment. Maintenance is a key part to things not breaking, but sometime equipment breaks. Sometimes workers actions inadvertently break equipment. Reporting these incidents right away is rather important. The equipment may be needed for a job the next day and with it broken, the job won’t get done. The powers that be want to hear from the one who made the mistake rather than finding out about the problem later and having to ask about it. Owning up to the mistake that was made dramatically moves the person down the learning curve. Humility and responsibility go along with learning. And watching others go through the process helps one to understand accountability and how to survive the learning curve. Much of human instinct is to not admit when a mistake is made, but until the mistake is owned, the lesson is not learned. Keeping that ownership of great things and not so great things keep us moving forward as productive members of society. As a mentor of mine once said “Humility is truth.” Keep that truth close and honest.

So “Mea culpa,” “My bad,” or “Houston, we have a problem,” keep your humility, and teach your team that you make mistakes as well. Each is an opportunity to make things better and dodge some future challenges.

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