Value 3c: Try New Things and Fail Quickly

At Blue Raven Solar, we have three values:

 

1. Develop a High-Trust Culture

2. Be Efficient

3. Continuously Improve.

 

Each value is accompanied by four statements that try to capture what living this value means for us.

 

Our third value, “Continuously improve,” means four things for us:

 

3a: Gather data to make decisions

3b: Follow the Blue Raven six-step problem solving approach

3c: Try new things and fail quickly

3d: Be go-getters

 

Value 3c is our topic today: Try new things and fail quickly.

 

 

When we give our team members permission to try new things at Blue Raven Solar, you’ll often see them smile and their eyes will light up. While it might be surprising, we’ve learned that it’s hard to overstate the positive impact of giving people permission to try new things.

 

A few years ago, one of our new managers asked for permission to try a new process for evaluating re-roofs. I said, “Sure!” The process didn’t go as planned, and we ended up losing $10,000. The new manager came to me in tears. When I told her that Value 3c meant that she was supposed to try new things and she had succeeded, she looked at me quizzically. She thanked me and said, “I will never make this mistake again.” She built an even better process and went on to become one of our strongest contributors. The experience shaped her development and commitment to the continuous improvement process.

 

We do believe in learning from our mistakes. More often than not, the politics of ideas play out in unhealthy ways. People advocate for the idea they view as their own instead of the idea with the most merit. At Blue Raven Solar, when implementing any change to our process, we seek timely feedback to pivot quickly. We also give ourselves permission to pull the plug on bad ideas. Over the years, from sales channels, to site survey methods, to referral incentives, to choices about technology, to the very heart of our business model – we have tried new things, failed quickly, and continuously improved as a result.

 

We asked employees how they experience value 3c at Blue Raven Solar. Here is what some of them said:

 

BRS is always trying new things. We celebrate the successes, identify lessons and move on from failures.

 

There has been a lot of trial and error lately. We have implemented tons of new processes and have kept some and ditched others. It makes me feel like we are growing and thriving. I am excited about where things are going!

 

There are awesome systems set in place to evaluate processes that we try. If it doesn’t work, the goal is to catch it quickly and then go back to the drawing board.

 

I have seen lots of new programs and tools throughout the company being used and if those don’t work new ones are tried to make sure that we are working as fast and accurately as we can.

 

BRS is willing to let us try new tools to reduce our cycle time and put the responsibility on our shoulders. The results of that are checked by our manager who helps us decide on what needs to happen.

 

Everyone is constantly learning from their mistakes and consciously knowing not to make them again. We find creative ways to problem solve and have tons of opportunities to express our creative problem-solving skills.

 

I’ve been able to make mistakes and learn from them in every aspect of learning the job.  And everyone is so supportive while helping me learn.

 

All departments now have operations coordinators allowing people to transition from different roles to find where they really fit and are not locked into roles that don’t quite fit.

 

As each department makes changes to keep up with a growing customer base, we switch positions and teams and always try something new if it doesn’t work.

 

There are often new people who are starting in every department, they are all encouraged to not worry about getting it wrong and to always do their best, in an effort to promote quick failure and quick learning for them, this in my opinion is the best way to learn, train, and grow as a company.

 

The proposal team leads are always trying new things and having new ideas to improve the department. Whether it’s making adjustments to the tool, or trying new strategies with audits or predesigns, there is always new ground being broken and ideas being tested without fear of failure.

 

I see 3C modeled in my inspections team all the time! We all want to do our job the best that we can and try to create new methods and change our current methods to better the processes we go through daily.

 

Inspections has created a system to determine which departments we are waiting on in order to schedule an inspection. This is causing others to be more accountable for their work and address these items in a timelier matter

 

Sales Dev management is always urging and wanting us to try new approaches, sales trainings and making sure we’re constantly evolving and becoming better at our jobs. “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of madness.”

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