4 Steps to Handling Creative Mistakes


Creative people make mistakes. It’s just part of the process of taking the risk to try something new. If you’re a creative person, you must be prepared to make a mistake as mistakes are an inevitable part of putting great ideas into action. In fact, more times than not, mistakes are a result of the unintended consequences of great ideas put into action. You can’t anticipate everything and therefore you can never totally prevent mistakes. That’s just something you have to be willing to accept.

When new ideas are implemented, humans are almost always involved. And guess what? Humans make mistakes. The key to handling mistakes is to know what to do when a mistake occurs. Here are 4 steps to handling creative mistakes.

4 Steps to Handling Creative Mistakes

  1. Run to the problem. Don’t bury your head in the sand and pretend no one noticed. Because they did! Get up and go figure out what happened.

  2. Communicate! You must be the first to admit that a mistake occurred and then reassure your team that it will get fixed. This will put everyone on your team at ease knowing that the mistake has been identified and the fix is on the way.

  3. Be transparent. Be transparent about where you are in the process of resolving the problem. Don’t try to hide the dirty details because people will find out anyway; It’s best they find out directly from the source.

  4. Don’t quit. Do not under any circumstances let your first mistake stop you from further creativity. It’s easy to talk yourself out of trying something new again just because it didn’t go perfectly the first time around. This is a pitfall to avoid. You will learn from each mistake and continue to get quicker and more effective the more you create and innovate within your organization.

Making mistakes are an inevitable part of putting new ideas into action. If you manage other people who make a mistake, resist the urge to reprimand them and instead teach them how to overcome their mistakes. This will give them the confidence to continue trying new things which will make you, your employees, and your business better.

Never let the fear of making a mistake keep you or your team from being creative.

Mark Lewandowski, Ph.D., CM&AA