Thursday, August 6, 2009

Mistakes Credibility

"It’s refreshing—and rare—when officials at nonprofit organizations feel confident enough to say what worked and what didn’t work. People will pay attention because admitting mistakes is so extraordinary in today’s world. It will set you apart. It takes a strong organization to claim to have some of the answers and to admit that it doesn’t have all of them."

Susan G. Parker,"Is Your Good Work Going Unnoticed? Seven Mistakes Foundations and
Nonprofits Make (and How to Fix Them),"
Clear Thinking Communications, 2009.

Admitting mistakes good for communication? I've been told over the years by well-meaning communication consultants that I was certainly being brave in wanting to communicate about mistakes but that the timing wasn't really right or that maybe I should talk about challenges, not failures. In other words, one should communicate successes,not things that didn't work out.

Communicating about successes is certainly a good thing; but tooting your own horn can produce backlash effects. Well, it wasn't a rigorous evaluation. The sample was too small. The environmental conditions were unique. What are the long-term outcomes?

Talking honestly about successes and mistakes increases credibility. Although most people in the social change world yearn for silver bullets, we know that these are far and in between and that more often than not successes grow out of the learned generated through mistakes and trial and error.

Approaching the world in this way demands real leadership!

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