Note: This site is moving to KnowledgeJump.com. Please reset your bookmark.

Learning from Mistakes

Objective: To promote a discussion of how we often blame others, rather than learning from mistakes (lessons learned) and how we perceive the degree of severity of certain actions by different individuals.

Time: 30 to 45 minutes

Instructions: Read and discuss the short stories below. Questions are listed below each story to help prompt the discussion. If you have a large group, it may be divided into smaller ones.

Story 1 - JPMorgan

Ina R. Drew was the Chief Investment Officer for JPMorgan Chase when the company suffered a trading loss of $6 billion in 2012 from a series of derivative transactions. Although it was reported that she left voluntarily, this was in all likelihood a firing.

Drew was often thought to be one of the most skilled female traders on Wall Street and a very capable manager at JPMorgan. Trading derivatives is high risk, thus it should not have surprised anyone when the loss was reported.


Story 2 - A Tale

Once upon a time a plaque was raging among the animals. The lion, considered the king of beasts, decided to hold a trial and find out who among all the animals was responsible for this dreadful plague, because it must be due to some sin that had been committed.

There upon the animals were summoned to his presence, and when asked about their respective sins, they confessed. It was now the turn of the bear, the wolf, and the tiger. They confessed that they tore asunder, mutilated, and killed animals and humans without mercy. The verdict was “not guilty,” and they were exonerated from all blame by the lion, who simply said that what they did was only their duty and function.

At last it was the turn of the lamb to appear before the court. She began to wonder what wrong she done, when suddenly she remembered that on one occasion, because she was very hungry, she saw some straw sticking out of the shepherd's shoe and ate it. That was it, then. The lamb, without any further investigation, was at once condemned, judged, and pronounced guilty. “For her sin,” roared the lion, “has this terrible disaster befallen us all.”

From the Dubner Maggid as told by William B. Silverman in Rabbinic Wisdom and Jewish Values.


Story 3 - IBM

Although IBM has had a number of successes, one of its big failures was the IBM PC Jr., announced in late 1983 (this is the PC that was first introduced with the chiclet style keyboard), and has often been called the “Edsel of computers” due to its design.

When it was dropped a short while later due to slow sales, the project manager dropped in on his manager and asked him if he should clean out his desk, as he was expecting to be fired. His manager replied, “We just spent several million dollars training you. Why would we want to fire you?”


Next Steps

This activity is used in conjunction with the chapter on Leadership and Motivation

Return to the Leadership Training and Development Outline