To Trigger Innovation and Organizational Learning, you need to Accept Creative Errors

Organizational Learning
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Anneke Zwart
Student (University), Netherlands

To Trigger Innovation and Organizational Learning, you need to Accept Creative Errors

Today’s dynamic business environment provokes an increasing pressure for companies to innovate in order to stay competitive. Companies need to find their way In triggering innovative, experimental behavior and creativity. In order to do this, they are required to depart from the traditional ways of doing business. However, departing from familiar paths and triggering innovative behavior, is risky and goes hand in hand with uncertainties. Many organizations are risk averse and have anti-innovative structures. "Many organizations hope that their personnel will think more creatively and take risks, but they are rewarded for well-proven, trusted methods and fault-free work’’ (Martins and Terblanche, 2003).

Although Kriegesmann, Kley and Schwering (2007) agree that the majority of errors that happen in organizations cannot be tolerated, there is one particular type of failure that must sometimes be tolerated because of its innovative potential. This type of error is called a creative error, meaning errors that can be made employees when they have departed from familiar pathways in a bold attempt at controlled experiments, thereby taking prudent but manageable and calculated risks. This differs from “normal” errors in that a creative error is an innovative initiative with computed risks.
Intolerance regarding creative errors will discourage people that have made a creative error to be creative and take a risk again. In this way the errors made will stifle innovative power.
In contrast, by tolerating such creative errors, people will not be discouraged to be innovative in the future. In other words, creative errors should be seen as a learning experience that leads to more innovative initiatives.
Source: Kriegesmann, B., Kley, T., and Schwering M.G., (2007), "Making Organizational Learning Happen: The Value of “Creative Failures”, Business Strategy Series Vol. 8.


melchiorre calabrese
Manager, Italy

Innovation and Creative Errors

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