The Art of Admitting a Mistake
Company managers talk about their failures
he motto of the first-ever ScrewUp Talk, which took place at ŠKODA AUTO in July, was: “Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn.” In a non-traditional format, the carmaker’s managers spoke openly about the biggest missteps in their professional careers and the resulting lessons. Speakers agreed on the need to talk about mistakes, analyse them and find out why they happened. This requires an open discussion. From the conversations about our future company culture, several key themes emerged that are important to us. One of them is courage, which will help eliminate the fear of mistakes. “We need to break the ice by making high-level leaders talk about mistakes. This will send a signal of how to work with them. Admitting a mistake and being able to learn from it is key”, explained Alena Petráčková from the ŠKODA Academy.
The second ScrewUp Talk will take place on 6 October and will feature ŠKODA AUTO managers as guests. Interested in joining? Sign up at ŠKODA Space.
The ScrewUp Talk fits into the Mindset Change concept, which was launched this year and is one of the pillars of the new corporate strategy. Three speakers spoke during the first event. First, Klaus Blüm, Head of FI – Information Technology, told his story from 2005 to 2007. In his efforts to introduce a modern system into a family business, he mastered the technical side of things; unfortunately, the system was not accepted by the company’s employees. Therefore, the entire project had to be called off due to the corporate culture. “I realised that corporate culture is above strategy and that an IT project is not just about technology but also about people. All the possible digitisation methods wouldn’t be enough unless people use them and feel comfortable doing so”, was how Blüm described the experience.
Then Michael Oeljeklaus, Board Member for Production and Logistics, shared his experience from 1996 when he was in charge of pre-series production of the Seat Arosa. He found himself in a situation where he was supposed to answer a question about the project status to the then–VW Group boss, Ferdinand Piëch, but he did not know the answer. He guessed it, and when Piëch started verifying it on the spot, he had a hot flush. Fortunately, everything worked out well, and Oeljeklaus has been trying to keep a detailed overview of the tasks under his responsibility ever since. Finally, Karsten Schnake, Board Member for Purchasing, talked about difficult purchasing decisions in the IT area. He recalled how he was faced with the decision whether to purchase modern technology that no one trusted yet. He described how he felt then and how many difficult moments it brought him. “At the very beginning, you don’t know if your decision is right. When you find out that it is wrong, at the first moment you think, ‘This is the end.’ However, mistakes are always relative. Make a decision, discuss it. Sometimes it doesn’t work out; sometimes you learn”, Schnake explained.
During the meeting, there was also room for discussion and questions from the audience. A total of 141 people saw the first ScrewUp Talk live, and more than 600 employees watched the video, according to data from the end of August. It received an excellent rating of 4.8 out of 5. When asked if they would be interested in more such events, everybody responded in the affirmative. ED
You haven’t seen the first ŠKODA ScrewUp Talk yet? Watch the recording in the ŠKODA Media Library.