General management

On being “not proved” wrong

I’ve often said I like being proved wrong. It’s good to do things well or have great ideas, but when someone shows us a different way which is successful it can help change our outlook on things, and we learn something new. I remember one time I proposed a way of triaging bugs coming into the development team, based on past successful experience. The team leads rejected this and proposed an alternative. I agreed their approach would yield better results if it worked, but I didn’t believe it would work. They proved me wrong, and I learned something new about effective teams—everyone was happy.

But recently I’ve been “not proved” wrong. I use this phrase in the sense of Scottish law, which can deem someone guilty, not guilty, or not proven—which effectively means “we think you’re guilty but we can’t prove it.”

Being not proved wrong means “I think you’re going about it the wrong way, but I can’t show you a better way.” In my case I was dealing with a situation which definitely didn’t go as well as it should have done; some friends suggested how they handled similar situations differently (and more successfully), but their circumstances were all slightly different to mine. So I couldn’t just take their ideas and generate a success.

Being not proved wrong is more tough than being proved wrong. If there was a successful outcome I’d be happy, even at the expense of my ego. But without a successful outcome it’s less satisfying—there is negative criticism and no clear blueprint for success.

The positive thing, though, is that by admitting to wanting to do better and asking for advice I now have some ideas for improvement. So there may yet be success ahead.

Photo by Maia Weinstock

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