10/07/2015
Keys to growth: Rethink failure and lose your job

By definition, businesses must embrace change to develop a culture of continuous improvement. But getting there requires more than simply learning from mistakes. It means people must feel empowered to attempt something new.  It demands that employees find job security not just in the knowledge they possess, but in the ideas they can spread. Those were […]

By definition, businesses must embrace change to develop a culture of continuous improvement. But getting there requires more than simply learning from mistakes.

It means people must feel empowered to attempt something new.  It demands that employees find job security not just in the knowledge they possess, but in the ideas they can spread.

Those were some of the basic beliefs of Dale Lauren Foland who watches as Lauren Manufacturing, the company he founded with just $7000, enters its 50th year.

Taking his vision from a small garage to around the globe, the now-retired innovator in the polymer industry knows first-hand what works in business and what doesn’t, which he outlined in his book Dale’s Simple Rules of Business.

While the volume is full of sound advice – “Never betray trust” and “Don’t let problems linger” –  some of the insights speak directly to Foland’s ability to cultivate a mindset that always looked for a better way to deliver value to customers.

There’s Always More To Learn

“My failure list is pretty high, but I praise people for trying,” Foland recently told the New Philadelphia Times Reporter. “It’s important that you try – and you learn.”

That ethic continues today as everyone from Lauren’s application engineers and quality personnel to customer service representatives and production team are given the challenge of improving operations, knowing their ideas are welcomed.

Taking educated risks without the fear of failure fosters a culture of idea sharing that goes one step further by Foland’s concept of “losing your job.”

In this case, that meant changing employees’ outlook that a business is dependent on their individual, rather than collective, knowledge. Foland recalls a chemist who developed a new compound, but kept the recipe a secret, thinking it would strengthen his position in the company.

By sharing job experiences, employees not only identify growth opportunities that lead to long-term sustainability, they pass on knowledge to the next generation which will support them in years to come.

Read more: Dale’s Simple Rules of Business.


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