Oops in the Workplace!

I’m eager to be sharing the 4th of 6 blogs that have set out to cover Aspire’s 6 core values having already covered People, Relationships, and Laughter.  This post is a story that helps to demonstrate Aspire’s value of Learning.  As a young COO nearly 20 years ago, I was negotiating a partnership with St. Vincent’s Anderson Regional Hospital.  The hospital specialized in psychiatric inpatient services and Aspire specialized in outpatient services.  We each had aspects in common but we also had our separate specialties.  The gap in the middle between hospital discharge and outpatient services was a weak component of our combined efforts. We came together and strategized, negotiated, and developed a partnership that combined our services and allowed for a clinical and financial win for both of us.  Or so it seemed….

It was only after operations were in place and costs had been incurred that it all came crashing to a halt.  We each had made some initial assumptions that were dead WRONG!  It was as simple as this:  we didn’t bother to define the words we were using!  Turns out they were looking for a brief intensive service that would last 2-3 days.  We were looking for a 3-4 week intensive outpatient program – a bit of a clinical and financial difference!

This cost Aspire about $20,000 and it was 100% my fault!  It was at this moment that I became acutely aware of our value of Learning.  I wasn’t penalized, shamed or made to feel like a failure.  Rich DeHaven allowed an inexperienced COO to learn from her mistake.  To this day, I diligently check out my assumptions and seek to understand potential partners’ definitions and terms.

William McKnight, one of 3M’s former Presidents, stated it well, “Managing such an enterprise takes considerable tolerance…the mistakes employees make… aren’t as serious as mistakes management will make if it undertakes to tell those in authority exactly how they must do their jobs.”1

I am grateful to work for an organization that values growth and learning, resulting in empowerment of staff  We believe individuals and organizations engaged in learning become better, stronger and wiser when we challenge old paradigms with critical thinking, curiosity and creativity.  Aspire is a place to learn and grow.  Mistakes are as important as successes!  Just recently,  I was part of negotiating a project with one of our Medicaid payers worth $100,000 annually for the next three years!  I think I’m getting better!

1 Evelyn Clark, “Around the Corporate Campfire:  How Great Leaders Use Stories to Inspire Success,” 2004.

bios_scottAbout the Author: Barbara Scott is the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Aspire Indiana. Learn more about Aspire Indiana on Facebook or at its website.

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5 Responses to Oops in the Workplace!

  1. jerrylanders says:

    I have had similar experiences with Aspire. In fact I have joked that the only thing I’m really good at is making mistakes. Hopefully, I have also learned from them.

  2. Susie Maier says:

    It is really interesting for me to reflect on how I view my mistakes now as opposed to when I was younger. There was a lot of blaming when I was growing up so I made sure to do whatever I could to either avoid a mistake or avoid making a decision altogether. That changed when I had children and began to ask them, “What did you learn from this?” Now, mistakes are just about learning something about a process, a different idea, or just listening with different ears. Somehow I became much more tolerant of my “learning opportunities” and thus myself over time. Working in this environment helps me to see what I can learn at Aspire from all the different people with whom I work. Thankfully, we’re all still learning!

  3. Nicole Wallace says:

    I love the look on people’s faces when I’ve admitted I’ve made a mistake. It’s as if they are shocked I’ve taken ownership of the error. We are all human therefore mistakes teach us some of our most basic and important life lessons, some big, some small! I believe the day I’ve stopped making mistakes is the day I’ve stopped challenging myself. That day will be truly boring and I hope will never happen! I love how Aspire continues to push me to excel for the benefit of our consumers!

    • Nicole says:

      Bingo! Admitting your mistakes in the presence of others makes you shine AND gives others permission to admit their own mistakes!

  4. Pingback: Integrity–A Personal Code of Conduct | Aspire Indiana, Inc.

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