Mistakes Will Be Made

Four fundamentals to executing and getting things done are:

  1. Keep it simple
  2. Focus on the important
  3. Empower the team to make decisions at the lowest level possible
  4. Speed

In practice, we often ignore these straightforward guidelines due to one over-riding fear:


“But, what if I make a mistake?”


  • Yes, mistakes will be made.
  • Yes, some tasks may be forgotten or left undone.
  • Yes, some work may not be done perfectly.

But, to execute and get things done, we have to allow this imperfection to creep into our work. This is the only way to get what is most important done quickly.

“We would rather suffer the visible costs of a few bad decisions than incur the many invisible costs that come from decisions made too slowly – or not at all – because of a stifling bureaucracy.” Warren Buffett

“Perfection is the enemy of good. By this, I mean that a good plan executed with great vigor now is better than a perfect plan next week.” General George S. Patton

“Done is better than perfect.” Facebook Slogan


Here are a few thoughts on getting things done and making mistakes to convince us that (yes) it is OK to make a mistake:

  1. Keeping key communication to 3 – 5 points means that the communication is simple enough to be understood and digested
  2. Sometimes good enough is good enough, especially if done quickly. That is, a 2 paragraph response within 2 hours is far more valuable than a 2 page response after 2 days.
  3. The majority of the communication (and E-Mails) that we receive contain information that is neither important nor actionable (we cannot do anything with it). Thus, skim the vast majority of all documents and E-Mails, get the gist of the material and move on.
  4. If your team members cannot make a decision without using you as a crutch then they are not being held accountable; they are not learning; and they are not fully vested in the decision.
  5. In order to do an excellent job on the most important, we truly have to do “B” or “C” work on the less important


Keeping these quick thoughts front of mind, I encourage us all to get out there and get things done quickly. If we make mistakes along the way, we need to:

  1. Correct the mistake as early as possible
  2. Learn from the mistake
  3. Get back out there and continue to execute and get things done quickly




About David Shedd

David has been a President - CEO - COO of an up to $350M group of manufacturing, distribution, specialty retail and services companies, having led 22 different businesses from turnarounds to start-ups to fast growth companies.
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