The culture of mistake

The NYT has a piece on the "culture of mistake" that I found intriguing

"good grades are usually a reward for doing things right, not making errors. Compliments are given for having the correct answer and, in fact, the wrong one may elicit scorn from classmates. We grow up with a mixed message: making mistakes is a necessary learning tool, but we should avoid them.

The resistance to making mistakes runs deep, he [Mr. Schoemaker ] writes, but it is necessary for the following reasons, which he outlined in the article: - We are overconfident. “Inexperienced managers make many mistakes and learn from them. Experienced managers may become so good at the game they’re used to playing that they no longer see ways to improve significantly. They may need to make deliberate mistakes to test the limits of their knowledge.” - We are risk-averse because “our personal and professional pride is tied up in being right. Employees are rewarded for good decisions and penalized for failures, so they spend a great deal of time and energy trying not to make mistakes.” - We tend to favor data that confirms our beliefs. - We assume feedback is reliable, although in reality it is often lacking or misleading. We don’t often look outside tested channels."

Why do I blog this? all of this is exemplified a lot in the psychology literature but I still find this very interesting. Especially if you think about the context of technology design, these elements echo a lot with some problem in how certain technologies are designed. My favorite, and the one I try to face in my work with designer is certainly the "We tend to favor data that confirms our beliefs"... as user experience researcher, it's always a matter of challenging people's mindsets... which is often turned to belief confirmation.