from the Blog

Everything is a Learning Opportunity – Some Examples



Overlooking the obvious clichés, most would agree that there are learning opportunities everywhere. We learn from the things that happen to us and around us. We learn from failures and successes. A quick Google search will give you a zillion (or so) articles about learning from successes and failures – scientific approaches, tips and techniques.

  • “Failure is the Only Option, If Success is the End Goal”
  • “We Learn More From Success Than Failure”
  • “How to Learn From Both Success and Failure”
  • “The Foundation for Success is Learning From Our Failures”
  • “Why Success Always Starts With Failure”
  • “How to Learn From Both Success and Failure”

As we review these types of articles, what is our end game? What are we trying to accomplish, and why do we care?

  • You want to get better.
  • You want to improve your company processes.
  • You want to provide a better work environment for your team.
  • You want to provide better service to your clients.

Consider some of these opportunities: Major tornado rips through Texas community – Learning Opportunity

  • We have all seen the damage from tornadoes and other high wind events. The reports were immediate – reviews from engineers and building officials scolding builders for improper construction, not meeting building code requirements for tie downs and other required framing connections.
  • This is great for headlines and lawsuits, but how can we maximize our learning from this failure? I would like to evaluate the buildings that are still standing – the successes. I want to know what made them resist the storm. What did we do right? 

Ford Motor Company launched the Edsel in 1958 – Learning Opportunity

  • Although the Edsel has a dedicated following today, it is certainly regarded as a failure in the car industry. This article is the best debrief I have ever read about what Ford learned from this experience. I was intrigued by some of the positives that the author acknowledged in this review. 
  • “The Edsel actually had some great innovations for its time such as a “rolling dome” speedometer and its “Teletouch” transmission shifting system in the center of the steering wheel. Other design innovations included ergonomically designed controls for the driver and self-adjusting brakes.” 

A client just fired us – Learning Opportunity

  • After you get over the initial shock (after all who in their right mind would possibly fire you), how quickly did the big boss make a client visit to debrief – is the relationship salvageable? Did the client outgrow you, or, did you outgrow the client? Is there a personality issue with the primary client contact? Did our work or product just plain not work? Stepping back to your sales process – did you set clear expectations? Have you had a team debrief? How is the team reacting? How will this impact other clients? What did you do right?

Justin, our star, left us for a competitor – Learning Opportunity

  • It’s bad enough that you lost a good one, but . . . to your competitor . . . that really sucks. Was it the pay – usually not? Could you provide opportunity for advancement? Was he a good fit with the culture of your team? Have you debriefed him, or just let him go? Is the door wide open for a possible return? How is the team reacting? Is the door wide open for a possible return? How is the team reacting? How will this impact the team moving forward? Why was Justin so good? What did he do right, and how can you duplicate it? Was his success a result of a good supporting team? How will this impact the team moving forward? What did we do right?

I had to let an employee go – Learning Opportunity

  • Firing staff members is about the hardest thing I have ever had to do (well, except for that one time). And I think that is a good thing. Hopefully this is not something that happens often in your workplace. When it does there is so much to learn and apply. You have to ask – were they in the ‘right seat on the bus’ – a position that took advantage of their strengths and passions? Were you trying to fit a square peg into a round hole? Take a look at your job description – did you hire a technician for a managers position? Do you need to re-evaluate your hiring process?

Two months of incredible sales, then two months of flat sales – Learning Opportunity

  • We are all going to have ups and downs. We celebrate the ups. We blow by or ignore the downs. What can you learn from the successful months? What were you doing right? I bet you were focused, intentional in making calls, following up leads, and closing the deal. What happens when you exceed your goals?
  • And the down months. Were you so busy closing the deal in those good months that you forgot to feed your funnel? As the leader of the team, have you ever considered that your sales team may think that they are selling beyond the capacity of the rest of team to produce the work? Is this holding them back? How can you address this?
  • What happened when you exceeded your goals? Did you get complacent? Crazy as it may sound it is pretty common for people to develop a glass ceiling (in their head). When they reach a certain threshold they do not feel worthy of additional sales and just don’t push as hard. What can you do as a leader to help your sales team push past this?

Everything is a Learning Opportunity

Did these examples whet your appetite? As you evaluate similar learning opportunities, challenge yourself to dig a little bit deeper. Ask questions beyond the obvious. Review with your coach or mentor – it is amazing the insights that can come from brainstorming even the ordinary everyday stuff.

. . . . go have an Awesome Week!

Tom Trabue
Photo Credit – CC2.0 – Alan Levine – “Learning is Hanging Out” (Feature)