Make Mistakes. Learn from Them

This is an article about vision and culture in management.

I’ve been working for the whole last week with 3 colleagues of mine from the SNSPA master in HR for a team project in constructing a memory skill test for the psycho-diagnosis discipline. I had to confront (again), with success, I might add, the same Romanian mentality which says “if the results aren’t a performance, nobody must know it”. It’s the cultural issue with Romanians, not having the ability to publicly recognize the failures.
Last week, when Money Express published a well-written
cover story about the leaving of Catalin Ionescu from the managerial position of CODECS, the best known and most important school of management for specialists in Romania. The company invested in building the new center from Agricultori nr. 37 and now they have to pay more than 600.000 euros and have liquidity problems.

I would like to point out the aspect that Adrian Stanciu mentioned, the courage of Catalin Ionescu to recognize his mistakes as a manager and publicly assume the disaster for the company that was the standout model in Romanian management for more than 15 years.
During the same week, a big public success was announced. Emi Gal, manager of Brainient, a young but experienced entrepreneur, has
won a  project financing at Seed Camp. Dragos Stanca wrote a brief and concise article on conclusions based on Emi’s experience. One of the things he insists on is the fact that Emi had a lot of failures that burned down fast.
Radu Georgescu askes whether the fall of CODECS is the
beginning of the crisis in Romania.

I think it is important to remember, especially to those who KNOW THIS, that the crisis has a psychological component and an economical component. Let us not burn down the whole market just because one big business might fall. Officially, the company is NOT in bankruptcy. But there’s another idea which I would like to underline. One of the reasons the financial market collapsed was the amplification of the economic effect at a psychological level, as George Soros pointed out in his 2008 book on the sub-prime bubble. That means, that, after the prices went down, they kept falling. I remember my broker was telling me last year in September that there were companies at BVB that, if sold, would make more money than summing the actual share price. The value of the SIFs was, on the financial transactional market, almost half their real economic accounted value. As I tried to understand and figure out rules out of losing money rapidly, the one rule that the market, also predicted by his observations, went down in Romania when it went down in the US and was stagnating when there were good signs in the US. It all became a PSYCHOLOGICAL EFFECT. It had nothing to do with real figures, but the impact of the investors’ expectations on the real market was dramatic.
Back to what my colleagues were saying while we were working at the project: “couldn’t we just play with the figures in such a manner that they turn out right?”, actually asking: “couldn’t we just PRETEND we’re doing this exercise and learning something from it while not actually risking anything?”. Well, the business people that are ashamed of their failures or point the finger at those who have failed (“oh, my, the management school went broke, what does THAT say about management?”) fall into the trap that Iuliana Stan from Human Synergistics was underlining in her
article on the death of Raluca Stroescu. The psychological tendency is to strive for performance, paint over the ugly sides, and showing off an image of success that has NOTHING to do with reality. I would just like to point out that this is not branding, it is suicide.
When I read about the fact that people started packing after Catalin Ionescu left, I realized he was a leader. If when a company dies or panics just by a person leaving when the restructuring plans haven’t been admitted, it’s a pretty good signal you have a leader. If you carefully read the article on the person who learned and practiced successful management for more than 15 years by talking to people, you understand that admitting errors and talking to people is a leader’s virtue. Keeping these in mind, let us also take a look at this
interview, taken a year ago, with Catalin Ionescu, before the crisis hit CODECS.

During his presentation at Open Coffee 2 weeks ago, Radu Georgescu talked about the virtue of openly admitting failures as being a capital one for an entrepreneur, as a proof of character, vision, and attitude, as I understood it.
I have not physically met Catalin Ionescu. I think my only direct contact with him was just to talk to him over the phone, incidentally about using a hall at CODECS for 2 hours for an event. I don’t know whether he did a bad choice or not, I am merely stating some facts that anybody could observe.
I challenge the successful entrepreneurs who read this article to comment on what their failures were in business and how they have
learned from these experiences.

Marcus Victor Grant

Copyright © Marcus Victor Grant, 2009-present

One thought on “Make Mistakes. Learn from Them

  1. Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an really long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Regardless, just wanted to say fantastic blog!


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