Is that monkey really smiling?

April 27, 2015

Why Leaders Don’t Learn from Success, Harvard Business Review, April 2011

Am I smiling?

Is this monkey smiling?

This piece is a not-so-gentle cautionary tale about false assumptions.

People and organizations often see success as confirmation of their approach or work and don’t spend enough time asking why they were successful.  The case study from Ducati, where it became “too easy to attribute the team’s excellent performance to the quality of its decisions, actions, and capabilities,” adds a little pizzaz.

Process advice from the article:

  • Celebrate success but examine it.
  • Institute systematic project reviews.
  • Use the right time horizons.
  • Recognize that replication is not learning.
  • If it ain’t broke, experiment.

True for a school. True for our students, especially our seniors, who will need to apply their “decisions, actions, and capabilities” in new settings next year.





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