Thoughtful Mistakes

From Episode 4 of the weekly Storyteller Tactics episodes

Each week we release an episode containing two tactics from the up and coming Storyteller Tactics card deck.

Each episode shows you how our characters use the two new story tactics to overcome challenges (and how they also help us write their narratives!)

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What is the Thoughtful Mistakes story tactic?

“We reward thoughtful failures” - Laszlo Bock, Head of HR at Google

Nobody likes to make mistakes. But we rarely make them deliberately. Most of our failures come after much careful thought. You can't be sure your project will succeed. But even if it fails, there's a good story to tell - and plenty of people ready to listen. Failure is only a tragedy if you cover it up or refuse to learn from it.

Try this as part of a team building exercise


ℹ️ Remember: story is everywhere.

When you tell stories, people pay attention, and most importantly - stories are never forgotten. 

The opportunities for using Storyteller Tactics in your work are endless. From emails, pitches, job interviews, or show and tells.

There's no right or wrong way to use them. Experiment and play. You'll find what works best for you.

How to use Thoughtful Mistakes story tactic

1) What went wrong? Get as wide a range of views as possible. Focus on thought processes, decisions, actions and communication. Try not to assign blame or criticise people.

2) Now see what the failure might tell you about

  • Goals: were we aiming for the right things?
  • Assumptions: how was our knowledge incomplete?
  • Insights: when did we realise we were going wrong?
  • Skills: do we need to improve or learn new ones?
  • Communication: where and when did it break down?

3) Ask "what could we do differently next time?" As Laszlo Bock at Google says: "Find the moral in the mistake, then teach it."

4) Ask "who else needs to hear this story, so they don't repeat the same mistake?"


If you want to craft this thoughtful failure into a story, use the Three T's tactic.

 Credit: Laszlo Bock, 2015

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