Organisations are vast and complex entities. However, when you observe incident reporting or issue reporting systems, you find that the mistakes and failures found in the majority of organisations can actually fit into three categories. These are preventable, unavoidable/complexity-related, and innovative or intelligent failures. 

All organisations can benefit from understanding what kinds of failures they can face. This helps in strategic planning, decision-making, employee involvement in reporting failures, and the addressing of failures and mistakes. 

Not all failures are ‘bad’ and developing an insightful strategy to learn from mistakes will help you benefit from the good ones.

Overview Of The 3 Types Of Failures


1. Preventable failures in foreseeable circumstances


Of course, your company has internal systems, rules, and guidelines that employees and other members have to abide by. These give your company structure and create accountability and responsibility. When individuals fail to follow said guidelines and drift from structured procedures, then it is a preventable failure. 

There are various causes of this type of failure. These include a lack of focus, inability, employee attitude, and a lack of understanding or education on procedures. 

As a manager or leader, you have a few options at your disposal to ensure the prevention of avoidable failures. These include: 

  • Checklists and to-do lists
  • Quality check measures
  • Managers and supervisors
  • Providing adequate support and training for workers
  • Workflows

Prevention techniques like these are vital to ensuring high productivity and flow even when there are a few mistakes here or there. The lessons learned from past mistakes like these also allow you to develop suitable prevention measures. This helps to ensure that the same issue doesn’t come up in the future.


2. Failures due to complex conditions


On the other hand, some failures cannot be helped by employees. These kinds of failures stem from the intrinsic conditions of an occupation or task. For example, running a facility in a busy urban area can present all sorts of unexpected conditions including external vehicles, people and machinery. 

Sometimes, in complicated situations, failures are inevitable and cannot be prevented. As such, you need to view some failures as part of the package. Doing so will allow you to accept and correct issues accordingly. 

You can also educate your workers on safety and risk, and implement effective reporting procedures. This will enable you to better deal with any incidents that occur.


3. Intelligent failures linked to experimentation


Now we come to the category of failures that are really great for your business. Failures that originate from experimentation and innovation grow your organisation. This is because they can offer fresh perspectives and knowledge. 

These are the “error” aspect in “trial and error” in an organisation. They are great for business development as they point to potential growth, expansion and innovation.


Final Thoughts


We all know the phrase ‘learn from your mistakes’ and it applies to organisational failures. Not all failures detriment your business. Rather, you stand to gain valuable insight from failures and mistakes, incident reporting and issue reporting. 

Are you looking for a tool to report failures, document corrective actions and share best practices across your organisation? ticks all the boxes for effortless reporting, investigation management, customisability, real dialogue and a lot more. Start your FREE trial today to see how it could help your organisation:

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Incident Reporting Incident Management Learning from Failure

Camilla Petersen

Country Manager, Denmark