Introducing MoUM: the Museum of Useful Mistakes

The awards season is round the corner. Judging panels are assembling. Submission deadlines are approaching. Dates are in the calendar. And yet…I find myself yearning for something more than a celebration of best practice…something to add some spice to it.

In my experience, judging awards submissions is a real education. My fellow judges are thoughtful and game for constructive debate. Presentations are fascinating and the Q&A element is the real reward. Written long-list submissions range from flashes of genius to moans of ill advised enthusiasm. Best of all, judges see some really smart people doing really good work. What’s not to like?

And yet…I find that a well described mistake can be far more instructive. That’s where we see (and feel) progress and the pain that it takes. A well oiled machine is lovely in the show-room but does not tell the story of heavy traffic in the rain and dark.

I propose a museum where a careful curation of mistakes, mishaps and bad luck are carefully displayed and described. Along with these, will be the corrections, responses and reactions employed to fix the mess. I would even go so far as a Hall of Howlers where no correction worked and we can view the clutter that resulted.

Those quiet and private moments of “Wow. Well that really didn’t work!” are the darker corners where our more powerful learning experiences lurk. They deserve celebration too. I know I learn from my mistakes and I would love to learn from those of others as well.

I do realise that no self respecting corporate comms officer will allow this idea out of its egg. It needs grass-roots and open source support. Maybe even an awards ceremony one day?

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