Thursday, November 12, 2009
The Virtues of Failure
Via Govloop.com here's a post at NASA's blog suggesting the need to celebrate failure. As you might expect, the writer gets a little pushback in the comments, given NASA's very visible failures in the past. But I buy the basic point: you--the bureaucrat--can only learn if you admit your failures. That's what the FAA does--promise pilots they won't get into trouble when they report near-misses. Unfortunately, in the government context it seemed we (I, and maybe others) fell into the us versus them trap in dealing with auditors. Not always, but often. The problem with GAO and OIG is the possibility adverse reports make it to the Washington Post and Congress. Bosses don't like being hauled up before Congress to defend their operations, especially when, as is sometimes the case, they don't really understand the issues involved.