Measures of Mistakes -- Measures of Success and The Mistakes that Make Us
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Measures of Mistakes -- Measures of Success and The Mistakes that Make Us

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    • Management
    • Leadership
    • Lean
    • Organizational Psychology
    • Innovation Management
    • Quality Management
    • Startups
    • Lean Six Sigma

About the Books

The Mistakes That Make Us

Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation
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Read endorsement blurbs

We all make mistakes. What matters is learning from them, as individuals, teams, and organizations. A culture of learning from mistakes spurs improvement, innovation, and better business results.

The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation is an engaging, inspiring, and practical book by Mark Graban that presents an alternative approach to mistakes. Rather than punishing individuals for human error and bad decisions, Graban encourages us to embrace and learn from them, fostering a culture of learning and innovation.

Mistakes cannot be prevented by proactively firing all of the mistake-prone people — because that’s all of us.

Sharing stories and insights from his popular podcast, “My Favorite Mistake,” along with his own work experiences, Graban shows how leaders can cultivate a culture of learning from mistakes. Including examples from manufacturing, healthcare, software, and two whiskey distillers, the book explores how organizations of all sizes and industries can benefit from this approach.

You'll read stories from leaders at Toyota, the technology company KaiNexus, along with former U.S. Representative Will Hurd, Kevin Harrington from “Shark Tank,” and many others.

The book also shares compelling examples of the power of iterating our way to success. Graban suggests we shift the thinking from “fail early, fail often” to “make small mistakes early, learn, adjust, and succeed.” Or, more succinctly, “small mistakes can lead to success.”

In the book, you'll find practical guidance on adopting a positive mindset towards mistakes. It teaches you to acknowledge and appreciate them, working to prevent them while gaining knowledge from the ones that occur. Additionally, it emphasizes creating a safe environment to express mistakes and encourages responding constructively by emphasizing learning over punishment.

Speaking up about mistakes isn’t a matter of character or courage; it’s a function of the workplace culture.

Developing a culture of learning from mistakes through psychological safety is essential in effective leadership and organizational success. Leaders must lead by example by admitting their own mistakes and reacting well when employees do the same. Instead of solely pushing for people to be courageous, leaders reduce the risk involved in speaking up. 

Psychological safety helps people feel comfortable speaking up; with effective problem-solving and mistake-proofing methods, we get action and improvement.

The Mistakes That Make Us is a must-read for anyone looking to create a stronger organization that produces better results, including lower turnover, more improvement and innovation, and better bottom-line performance. Whether you are a startup founder or an aspiring leader in a larger company, this book will inspire you to lead with kindness and humility and show you how learning from mistakes can make things right.

Praise for The Mistakes That Make Us:

“At last! A book about errors, flubs, and screwups that pushes beyond platitudes and actually shows how to enlist our mistakes as engines of learning, growth, and progress. Dive into The Mistakes That Make Us and discover the secrets to nurturing a psychologically safe environment that encourages the small experiments that lead to big breakthroughs.”


Other endorsers include:

  • Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup
  • Jim McCann, founder and chairman of 1-800-FLOWERS
  • Karen Martin, author of Clarity First and The Outstanding Organization
  • Rich Sheridan, CEO of Menlo Innovations
  • Zeynep Ton, Ph.D., author of The Good Jobs Strategy

Table of Contents:

Chapter One: Think Positively 

Chapter Two: Admit Mistakes

Chapter Three: Be Kind

Chapter Four: Prevent Mistakes

Chapter Five: Help Everyone to Speak Up

Chapter Six: Choose Improvement, Not Punishment

Chapter Seven: Iterate Your Way to Success

Chapter Eight: Cultivate Forever


End Notes

List of Podcast Guests Mentioned in the Book

Measures of Success

React Less, Lead Better, Improve More
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Learn more at the official website for the book. A paperback version is now available through and other retailers. It's also available in a hardcover edition.


Organizations depend on metrics for their business. Question is, are they helping people do the right things? Or, encouraging them to overreact to every uptick, downturn, and change?

In other words, reacting to noise.

Noise is present in every metric. But, it’s our reaction to noise that causes waste and stress. Too often, people don’t recognize this. 

Like feeling stuck on a rollercoaster you no longer enjoy.

We do and explain things that don’t help us improve. At the cost of doing things that do. No need to be jittery about every change in a metric. Not by a long shot.

Measures of Success shows a better way to chart and manage your metrics, in any organization or setting. For your business processes and activities, you need to know what’s working, what’s not, and what to change. And why. Then, you can determine what to stop doing, what to start doing, what to keep doing

So you can…

Jump off the metrics rollercoaster, by responding to signals.

Systematically. Sustainably. 

Learn how to identify statistically meaningful signals in a metric. To respond just right. 

Or perhaps, not at all. 

You’ll learn how with methods easy to understand, making it obvious what activities to do next. Loads of vivid stories and clear examples from healthcare, software companies, and more. With compelling case studies from the news and personal lives, too. 

“What gets measured gets managed.“

We’ve all heard that. But did you ever learn how to manage a metric? This ain’t about gaming the system or fudging the numbers. This is about delivering real value, understood by everyone, and proven with data.

Learn a better way to manage your measures.


"MEASURES OF SUCCESS will help you tame the firehose of data flooding your organization, turning it into an orderly stream of information you can use to improve your business. With clarity and precision, Mark Graban steps through the process of collecting and analyzing the kind of data you focus on — activities that add value for your customers rather than activities that are just wasted motion. If you’re navigating a tough business environment, you need this book."
-- Daniel H. Pink, Author of WHEN and DRIVE



…in healthcare, manufacturing, and services. Who know what to measure, and are now ready to learn how to manage those measurements. And…


  • Challenge and change the way things are done today
  • Motivate workers to think and do them differently tomorrow
  • Coach people, versus telling them what to do
  • Be responsible for results, not hold others accountable
  • Encourage people to collaborate, not compete
  • Help people sleep better at night because they’re improving their work during the day


Measures of Success is not for leaders who’d rather give orders. Then, blame others when things go south. That whole hit the target or else thing… won’t create real change, nor real value. But that ain’t you, right?


"By combining a range of case studies and stories across industries, including many from his own personal experience, with detailed, clear explanations of what Process Behavior Charts are and why they're so effective for managing data, Mark Graban has written a readable, informative book to guide any leader who wants to help an organization achieve true and lasting success. Improvement has been made easier thanks to his work"
-- Eric Ries, Author of The Lean Startup and The Startup Way


…you’ll be able to answer three critical questions for your business.

1) Are we achieving our target?

And, how often? Occasionally? Consistently?

2) Are we improving?

And, can we predict our future performance?

3) How do we improve?

And, when do we react? When do we ignore? When do we improve? 


How would you feel if you could answer these questions for your business?

Measures of Success shows you how.


Measures of Success is a book for business leaders. Though it’s based on statistical methods, anyone will understand how to use these. 

No reason to feel intimidated - this ain’t calculus, nor rocket science, either. 

Learn to respond versus react to changes in metrics. Have better conversations, creating better outcomes. Backed by numbers over opinions. And…

Prove it all. Visually. In seconds.

With charts and other visuals to show, rather than tell.


Key takeaways for Measures of Success.

  • Don’t manage the metric. Do manage the work. Metrics are the result of your work. Improving work improves results.
  • Two data points are not a trend. Three? Four? Not usually. A dozen or more? You betcha.
  • Data only has meaning when compared over time. Context tells the story.
  • A chart tells a better story than a list of numbers. Every. Time.
  • More than what happened, be able to predict what’s likely to happen.
  • Fluctuations occur for every metric. Process behavior charts show what to respond to, what to ignore.
  • Save your breath and time explaining the noise of a metric, since there’s no ‘root cause’.
  • Measure often. Weekly over monthly. Daily, even better. Respond thoughtfully, versus react mindlessly.

Want to react less, lead better, and improve more with a better story for your organization? Who wouldn’t, right?


...around this whole signals from noise thing? 

Listen and watch how this affects your organization.

Listen to a podcast with Mark discussing the book and his use of Leanpub.


Order here through LeanPub and you'll receive a ZIP file with a number of digital extras:

  • Excel template for Process Behavior Charts
  • Summary of Key Points (PDF)
  • Quick Reference Guide - Rules for Finding Signals (PDF)
  • Audio File - Audiobook-Style Content of Early Book Material
  • 30 Minutes of Free Virtual Coaching (if you pay the suggested price of $19.99 or higher)
Donald J. Wheeler, Ph.D.
Quint Studer
Harvey Leach
Dan Markovitz
Jon Miller
Karen Martin
Dr. Greg Jacobson
Matthew E. May

8 reader testimonials

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