If you compared two teams of medical professionals – a high-performing team with an average team – which one would make more mistakes? Contrary to what one would expect, Amy Edmondson found in her research studies that high-performing medical teams made more errors than their lower-performing counterparts.
How can a high-performing team also be more error prone? More so in the medical field, where an error could cost a patient’s life.
The reason, it turns out, that in the high-performing teams spoke more openly about their errors. Whenever anybody spotted an error, they pointed it out and admitted it openly rather than suppress this information. This allowed the entire team to learn from it and improve. Besides, when errors are caught early, they are usually small and can be corrected quickly. Therefore, high-performing teams committed more errors only because they were more open to identifying them, admitting them and learning from them.
Even in the teams of the highest calibre, committing errors and learning from them is routine. If your excellent team is also one that claims to not make any mistakes, you need to be worried.