Learn from other people’s mistakes image


Learn from other people’s mistakes

Written by Erica Bassford, Head of Aspire, LI Europe Ltd

When do people learn most?

At school or university? Through reading or video? At the start of their career?

It’s easy to think about the knowledge gained from educational institutions, books or documentaries, but real learning comes through experience. Some of my best learning has certainly been established when I have tried to implement a practical solution. 

What I find most interesting is that I always seem to learn more when things have gone wrong rather than when things have gone right. This can be a painful journey, with possible embarrassment and potential cost.

I’m sure I’m not alone in this unfortunate way of learning either. There is an abundance of quotes about how it’s better to have tried and failed than to have never tried at all, or how it’s not our mistakes we should be judged on, but how we deal with them. It seems that many people believe that mistakes provide us with an excellent learning opportunity.

But it’s not just our own mistakes we should learn from. The world has only evolved as quickly as it has because people have learnt from each other. They’ve built on what works, improved on it and developed it, but they’ve also analysed the mistakes of those before them. This is true in war, in sport, in politics, in construction, in science and technology, and of course, in business.

Rather than taking huge risks in our own business, we can look at what other businesses have tried. If the results are good, we can implement similar ideas into our own business and make small continuous improvements. If the results are bad, we can work out what went wrong and make the necessary adjustments to avoid similar outcomes.

Even if your business is going well, you will benefit greatly from the experience of others. After all, if you’ve never fallen foul of the common pitfalls yourself, you’ll find it harder to see them coming. Isn’t it better to learn how to avoid them, than to have to overcome them?

This is one of the reasons that many companies utilise external consultants. Consultants and Practitioners who have analysed and fixed the mistakes of other businesses. Consultants who have experience in identifying exactly where the risks are and where improvements need to be made. Consultants who have first-hand experience of what works and what doesn’t.

Through LI Europe, you can tap into the experience of our consultants who will help you avoid common mistakes and ensure you maximise results. You can also benefit from the experience of your peers through our monthly Ambassador’s Academy (TAA).

Ambassador’s is a support network where you can share your challenges with like-minded operational professionals who have probably faced similar challenges in their careers too. They are happy to share their experiences, suggestions and advice, letting you learn from their valuable insights and avoid some potential pitfalls.

Why not find out for yourself how our Ambassador’s Academy can benefit you. Contact us for a free taster session to see what mistakes you can learn from.


Over the past three months I have been concentrating mainly on changeover reduction, waste reduction and increased throughput. There has also been a challenge to behavioural patterns. All of these efforts have been using the knowledge that you gave me and I am delighted to say that all have been successful, culminating in increased throughput, less waste and an increase in OEE from an average of 78% to around 90%. There has also been a marked improvement with people issues.

Alwin Waterhouse, Improvement Manager, British Bakeries

The course has helped me to understand that there are lots of different types of people but you need a good mix to be an effective team and to get the best results.

Front Line Manager on Aspire Programme