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Wally Bock

Treating everything as a prototype is one way to look at learning. In my work, I've called it treating trials as experiments. With an experiment you win every time because you learn something about the hypothesis.

That sounds good, and it can work, but it's hard to get past some of the basic psychobiology. Negative, dangerous stuff imprints more deeply than happy stuff.

David Christiansen

Hi Bob. Great insight, as usual. Nearly every time I read your blog, or one of your books I come away wishing someone would study these concepts in the context of corporate IT departments - technology departments that support a business rather than technology as a business. IT departments fail so regularly you'd think they would have learned how to fail in healthy ways, but they haven't. Instead, they respond to failure in all sorts of insane ways like spinning, blaming, witch-hunting, arm-chair quarterbacking, and even lying.

A few years ago I discovered a way to end all of this unhealthiness whenever I was involved in a failure. It's simple really - just talk about my role in the failure, things I should have done but didn't, admitting I made mistakes, and talking about how that contributed to the failure. Every time I do this, two things happen, and one thing doesn't: 1) Somebody tells me they think I'm brave (I find this strange) 2) Everybody stops looking for a scapegoat or some way of absolving themselves of blame, even if they come short of admitting their role in the failure, and 3) I don't get fired.

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