Ten years ago, Rick Schneider says there was a mantra at FANUC Robotics America Inc.: “Do it right the first time.”
Efficiency was paramount. Mistakes were the enemy. It was all about meeting customer needs in the shortest time with minimal snags.
But a funny thing happened on the way to maximum efficiency, says Schneider, president and CEO of the $500 million developer and
manufacturer of robotic components.
“I found (that way of thinking) was very detrimental to innovation,” he says. “Doing it right the first time means you had better not try
anything too out of the ordinary, because if you want to do it right the first time, it means you’d better not make a mistake.”
He says mistakes are inherent to the innovation process. In fact, some of the best innovations originate with mistakes.
Schneider says he has strived to create a culture where mistakes are not swept under the rug. Instead, they are set on the table and
examined to find out what exactly went wrong. He says he wants his employees to be problem-solvers, not perfect performers.
“What I’ve found is that it’s very important to have a culture that, if someone makes a mistake, you don’t come down hard, reprimand
them or punish them.,” he says. “What you do is say, ‘OK, what is the root cause of that problem, and what are the ways and processes
we can put in place so that problem doesn’t reoccur?’”
Schneider says at FANUC Robotics, the object is to always learn and to use what you’ve learned to come up with new solutions for
He says opportunities to learn are everywhere, in just about any business. You just have to know where to look.