The Time Value of Life: Andrea Jones on Taking Years to Get Over Feeling Like a Failure

The Time Value of Life: Andrea Jones on Taking Years to Get Over Feeling Like a Failure


Check out all episodes on the My Favorite Mistake main page.

My guest for Episode #105 of the My Favorite Mistake podcast is Andrea Jones, founder and principal at her firm Andrea Jones Consulting.

Andrea Jones has focused on efficient and effective Project Management and Change Implementation for over 20 years. She also loves process improvements, and has a natural instinct to always seek a better way to execute work.

Andrea began her career at Intel Corporation, as a Process Engineer, and grew to love the use and analysis of data to make actionable recommendations.  

Andrea has an MBA from MIT Sloan, an Engineer Masters from MIT, a Masters in Chemistry from the University of Oregon, and a Bachelors in Chemistry and Japanese from the University of Oregon, and is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP).

In today's episode, Andrea shares her “favorite mistake” story about how she took a buyout from Intel, but then “felt like a failure” because “they didn't find a role” for her. Why did it take years to get over the “emotional baggage” and what did Andrea learn from that experience?

We talk about that and other topics including:

  • “The time value of life”
  • Part-time consulting work models for moms (and for dads)
  • Is it a mistake to not want to manage others?
  • So hard to keep working moms in the workplace
  • Might not have all the answers when we go into something
  • Treat it as an experiment and “fail fast”?
  • Admit failure, accept reality
  • Simon Sinek's book The Infinite Game
  • Do organizations crave certainty?? Do our brains?

Find Andrea and her firm on Social Media:

Scroll down to find:

  • Watch the video
  • How to subscribe
  • Full transcript



"We call it the 'time value of life.' And we really prioritize that people have a whole life outside of just what they're doing for work."
"We get to experiment. We get to make these mistakes. We get to try again. And if we can admit that and show that level of vulnerability with those around us, especially in leadership positions, everybody's just going to get there a whole lot faster."
"If you can admit or accept some level of the blame, especially as a leader, I think everybody will be much more open to having a productive conversation about what really happened, without getting to that feeling of 'I'm being blamed for this.'"

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Automated Transcript (Likely Contains Mistakes)

Mark Graban (0s):

Episode 105, Andrea Jones, a consultant with two degrees from MIT.

Andrea Jones (7s):

Of course everybody makes mistakes and there's tons of them. What's the one that you maybe learned in front of the most. And that's kind of what I focused on thinking about this question.

Mark Graban (19s):

I'm Mark Graban. This is My Favorite Mistake. In this podcast, ou'll hear business leaders and other really interesting people talking about their favorite mistakes because we all make mistakes, but what matters is learning from our mistakes instead of repeating them over and over again. So this is the place for honest reflection and conversation, personal growth and professional success. Visit our website at my for show notes, links, and more. Go to If you liked the episode, please share it with a friend or colleague on social media, send them a link via email. It won't be a mistake to do so.

Mark Graban (1m 1s):

Our guest today is Andrea Jones. She's a principal at her from her company, Andrea Jones Consulting. Andrea has focused on efficient and effective project management and change implementation for over 20 years. And like me, Andrea also loves process improvement. She has a natural instinct for seeking, always focusing on seeking a better way to execute work. So before I tell you a little more about Andrea, let me first say thank you. I'm glad you're here. How are you?

Andrea Jones (1m 29s):

And well, thank you again for having me Mark. Of course,

Mark Graban (1m 33s):

Andrea began her career at Intel Corporation. She was a process engineer and there she learned, she grew to love the use of data, the analysis of data to make recommendations and improvements. And she has a, an educational background that's similar to mine. So I like may. She has an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of management. She has an engineering master's degree from MIT and we'll give a shout out because we were both in a program called leaders for global operations. So you're the second guest to join us. Michelle parish, who was a previous guest was also a graduate yet a different year than, than ours.

Mark Graban (2m 13s):

So I'm really glad that we can, you know, we've got that shared educational background, but you've got really interesting experiences that are different than mine. So I'm glad we can explore all of that today. Andrew's website, if you want to learn more about her and her work, and we'll mention it again the end is So Andrea, you know, as we normally do here, we dive right into asking a story, thinking back to your career and your different things you've done. What's your favorite mistake?

Andrea Jones (2m 48s):

Yeah. Thanks for asking Mark. So thinking about this and you know, of course everybody makes mistakes and there's tons of them. And I know you've said this is really not every mistake or a litany really. What's the one that you maybe learned from the most. And that's kind of what I focused on thinking about this question and I'll tell the story. So back to finishing that program, the LGO program many years ago now I came out of it. I was working at Intel before I started the program. They sponsored me for the program, which meant that they finance my way through the program, which was very generous. And I was super fortunate and of course I had to work for them afterwards. And so I got out of school and went back to work at Intel.

Andrea Jones (3m 29s):

Previously, I'd been an engineer in the factory, as you sort of mentioned a process engineer. And I thought, oh, I have an MBA. I can do marketing, which, you know, maybe I could do marketing. But at the time I started back at Intel and I had been in the group in the marketing group for not very long, maybe several weeks. And they had hired a consulting firm to evaluate sales and marketing and decided that they were too large and we're going to offer certain people, voluntary separation packages. And I think the mistake Mark, you can kind of see where this is going. I was offered a voluntary separation package after Intel had paid for me to go through school within two months of returning back to the company.

Andrea Jones (4m 15s):

And it was a huge, I would say shock at first and context in the way of a mistake is I think really the mistake. And this is probably true in many of my future mistakes that I'm trying to get better is thinking that something like that would not happen to me. Right. How could that happen to me? And so looking back on it, you know, when I first was told I could take a voluntary separation package and I had the opportunity if I wanted to, to, to maybe look for another job within the company, but I left that process engineering role for a reason. I know we'll get into some of that later. So I decided to take, take the option to leave. And it was a little while before I got over it in terms of my ego, I will say.

Andrea Jones (4m 59s):

And when I say a little while, probably years, you know what I mean, things were going well because after I left Intel, you know, I started looking for another job and this is where the learning from it came. I had really been focusing my career at that company, great company, super fortunate, like I said before, but hadn't considered the wider world. And so experiencing that and being sort of thrown into the wider world, I discovered this role that I'm in now, which is consulting. And the reason I really started it is, you know, I started thinking about what I wanted in my life and how I wanted things to go. My husband and I had only been married for a few years. We wanted a family. And so I decided to start my own consulting company born out of that, you know, mistake of kind of thinking some sort of, you know, failure like that would never happen to me, turned my life into a completely different direction than a very fortunate looking back.

Mark Graban (5m 55s):

Did you join Intel right out of?

Andrea Jones (5m 59s):

I did. In fact, I, well, I finished undergrad and then I did this master's program before MIT. I did another master's program in chemistry and it was with the University of Oregon. I think they still have this material science focusing on semiconductor processing. So I had an internship with Intel while I was getting my first masters. And then I worked for them basically full-time took night school for a year and then finished that up and started out at Intel. So yeah, it was really my first job. Yeah.

Mark Graban (6m 27s):

So, I mean, it sounds like you had been in many ways, like very committed to the company, they were committed to you. Like you said, sending you to MIT was, was a great investment that, that they made in you. But so I'm, I'm curious to hear just a little bit more of when, when you were saying well, yeah, that, that wouldn't have happened to you. Was there, you said it took a while to get over. It was there, was there sort of an emotional hangover from that? Did that affect your ability to, to, to, to move into other things? Or what, what was the impact of that?

Andrea Jones (7m 4s):

Right. That's a good question. I don't think it affected my ability to move into other things. I feel like I was able to pivot relatively quickly a couple of months, but I do think that it left a bit of a scar kind of that, you know, gosh, if I was that smart, if I was that good, why would they have asked me to leave? Why wouldn't they have just put me in a new role? Why wouldn't they, you know, try to grew me and things like that. And, and so I think that that sort of lack of humility maybe is the best way to describe it. You know, I had to get over that and I do think that that's, that's common, you know, and especially for people who have accomplished a lot and have done a lot of things.

Andrea Jones (7m 44s):

And you know, I right now where I live here in Portland, Oregon, and there's a lot of folks who have been asked to leave other large companies in the vicinity and friend of mine, who's asked to leave a company after 20 years of service. And it's a very real feeling that blow to the ego, you know, and I don't, I think it's very normal and I think it's also a great growth opportunity, but as far as, you know, stopping me from doing other things, thankfully, I don't think that was the case.

Mark Graban (8m 10s):

Yeah. Well, that's good. And you know, when you think of, I mean, to me, I think the mistake here, I mean, I think of the, you could argue Intel made a mistake, you know, that they had invested a lot in you and you were, you know, clearly a high potential employee for them to make that investment. Why would they perhaps lose track of you? I'm thinking of, you know, a friend of mine, a good friend of mine who was also a classmate in my year at the leadership level operations program, somebody could Google it and figure it out. So I'll just say it's Dell computer. I don't mean to throw them under the bus, but you know, similar large global corporation and my friend similar background of engineering had been working in that type of role.

Mark Graban (9m 4s):

She took a career development opportunity and where marketing. And then I think a couple of months after that Dell really had their first large scale layoffs and she, I don't think it was voluntary. She was swept up in that. And, and then I think this, you know, big company dynamics, she was laid off. And then at some point afterwards, somebody else in the original department, the company that had hired her learned about this and was really upset. Like, how'd you let that happen to her? And you know, so I think that was Dell's mistake. I know more about, you know, what had happened there.

Mark Graban (9m 45s):

So, I mean, there, I, and you know, I, I'm not trying to say, well, this happens to other people, Andrea. So therefore, you know, I don't know if that makes you feel better, if it makes you feel worse like these, these, these dynamics.

Andrea Jones (9m 57s):

Well, at this point, I'm, I'm definitely over it. And I think you're right there, the mistake could go both ways for sure. And it's sad that large companies, good people can get swept up. Like you said, just it's a numbers thing. It just has to be cut. They're not really looking at individuals, you know, but that kind of has shaped the way that I've worked going forward with my consulting firm, right. Which is we, we do, we call it the time value of life. And we really prioritize that people have a whole life outside of just what they're doing for work. I think that work is very rewarding, meaningful, paid work. It's, people's, self-esteem, it's values their human dignity.

Andrea Jones (10m 39s):

It's a creative outlet. You feel like you're offering something to the world in a way that's obviously valued because you're again getting paid for it. It just doesn't have to be all or nothing. And the Intel job was very, all. It was time-consuming. The factory was, you know, you had to be available at any point during the day and not just the work week. Also the weekends. I don't believe that culture has completely changed from some of the engineering departments and that's not really always conducive with real life. And then, you know, you think that that's the only thing you can do is work all the time. But really the, and the option is to just not work at all.

Andrea Jones (11m 20s):

That's the alternative. And what I've learned over the years now is that's patently untrue. There are so many ways to make work, fulfilling work happen in between those two extremes. And so I've kind of dedicated AJC to that mission, which is working with amazing educated, experienced people who have something to offer to the world by way of, of employment and, and meaningful work. And pairing them up with companies who need that skill and expertise, but not necessarily on a full-time basis. And we have been so fortunate to find clients that share that value and able to provide that type of service.

Mark Graban (11m 59s):

Yeah. So, I mean, so I'd like to hear more about that. And now for context, I work mainly as a solo preneur, if you will, you know, I sometimes work with other firms, you've built a firm with a lot of people, so that's a, that's a whole different level of commitment and responsibility. I mean, yeah, it was right. If you tell the audience, you know, kind of more about building that firm and how have you maintained that sort of balance of, of focusing on the time value of life as, as a mother, as a wife, as the owner of the business.

Andrea Jones (12m 34s):

Yeah. That's, that's a good question. Building. The firm was, I would say accidental. So when I first started consulting after I'd left Intel and I decided to, to try for it, I thought, you know, we wanted to have a family and I don't want to be beholden to a company if I'm going to be taking maternity leaves, who knows what's going to happen. Maybe I need some time off. Maybe I don't want to work full time. So it was really at first a vehicle for me to continue my career and just, and have this family. And then at the end of 2014, I joined a group called Vistage, which is a peer advisory group and became part of a network that had exposure to other business leaders in the area.

Andrea Jones (13m 16s):

I, you know, as a young mother, I did not have time to do a ton of networking. And this is something I think a lot of people, not just, not just parents, but a lot of people struggle with is if you want to do the independent work like you're doing Marvin, you know, you have to be building your book while you're delivering the work. And it's very challenging. And it was almost like a sinusoidal right. If these are fan and curve, it was either you're on and working and not doing BizDev or you're not working. And all you can do is visit. So when I joined this group and I started getting exposure to potential customers, the business started to grow just by virtue of that. I was being referred, which was very fortunate. And I was bringing in people and they were moms like me, who had also been at Intel and couldn't, you know, live that lifestyle.

Andrea Jones (14m 1s):

Then they had their family and it was kind of overflow. I was, I didn't set out to start a firm. And I had some peers that had in consulting, you know, maybe more toward the tail end of their career, that they gave me some bad stories about managing people, how hard it is. And, you know, you're dealing with people all the time. And I was like, Ooh, I must not want to do that. So that might've been a mistake too. Cause I think I had the blinders on at first about that. I was like, oh, I definitely, you know, was bad for these guys. So it probably be bad for me. And, and that was a mistake because it actually loved managing people. And it turns out that I really liked people and I really believe in people. And so, you know, starting to work with other people and growing the business and bringing in people now as employees, I find that the only reason I'm continuing this business many days is because of the people, if I wasn't serving these people and I didn't believe so strongly how much they have to offer, I just don't think I do it.

Andrea Jones (14m 55s):

So, you know, it's a time in life kind of thing. I don't know if I could have had the time while we were actively still having newborns to grow the business. It didn't actually start until, you know, my youngest was one the growth, but now looking back, I wish I would have maybe at least been open to that earlier. Cause it's just very rewarding.

Mark Graban (15m 14s):

So it was, was part of that. You mentioned moms in particular, was that meeting other women who were kind of looking for a similar type of work-life integration or wanting to do a job that they, they, they cared about, but didn't have to be a full-time yet alone, 24, 7, you know, Intel really. So running literally around the clock by the nature of their business, but D D w was it a matter of how I'm curious, I'm gonna ask it a different way, the balance between you doing good work clearly, because that's what leads to referrals. You're busy and meeting women that you could describe as talents you've got client needs, you're finding talent and you're like, I can try to put them together.

Mark Graban (15m 57s):

It was a little bit of both.

Andrea Jones (15m 59s):

Yeah. And again, at first it was women that I had, I had personally worked with when I was at Intel in the factory at other engineers. And that's how it started. And then it just grew by word of mouth because once you start telling people, Hey, would you like to do, you know, well-paid intellectually challenging, meaningful work that helps somebody else 15, 20, 25 hours a week and not have to find it yourself. It's like, we call it fondly, the unicorn of work. You know, it's like the almost impossible thing that it's really hard to find, but it's actually out there. And so people would, you know, my, my employees would refer other people to me and then we'd start just networking and talking and people would come.

Andrea Jones (16m 41s):

And you know, even now we're talking to people, the hardest part sometimes is there's not enough work for everybody who would like to do this type of work. So then my mission now is to grow the business as I, I want to provide that type of work for people who want to do it.

Mark Graban (16m 56s):

Yeah. I wonder if most, so I'm, I'm curious, what's the effect of the pandemic does a lot of consultant like myself and others have shifted to more of a virtual model. It's not that traditional kind of full-time onsite model does, has a shift to more virtual work, made it easier to do work. That's a little more part time for, for these individuals.

Andrea Jones (17m 18s):

Absolutely. Yeah. We were very fortunate in the sense that we have to have a pretty lean and mean overhead model mark. I'm sure you can appreciate that. So we don't have an office. We've never had an office everybody's always worked from home or gone into client sites when necessary. So when the pandemic hit, you know, it was just instead of doing one or two meetings a week at the client site, you were just doing them over this type of channel or virtual channel. And that was not hard for us. We were set up that way. We all had our, you know, infrastructure in place. Also we help put in place as project managers. You mentioned before it process people and change people. We help with all kinds of change. One of them being moving people into cloud-based systems, where now it turns out that anybody who didn't already have a cloud based system really wanted one.

Andrea Jones (18m 7s):

So we were just fortunate to get some of that work. So the pandemic's been great. And then I, I look at my moms, you know, not everybody who works for me as a mom, not even everybody as a woman, but the moms I do have with the kids being at home for school. You know, I have four kids now they're in seventh grade, fifth grade, third grade, and first grade, it is not easy when they are all home and you're trying to get them on their stuff, trying to hold down a full-time job while doing that is next to impossible. But trying to maintain 15 to 20 hours a week is totally possible. And a welcome break actually,

Mark Graban (18m 42s):

Are there times from a managing client expectations, client expectations standpoint, where you have to do, you have to sort of sometimes draw some boundaries and make sure that, you know, if somebody is working well with the client, there might be a tendency for that work to then expand.

Andrea Jones (18m 59s):

Yes, there's all this, that, and our team is very talented. So that does happen. You know, I, I can't say we're perfect. We had a couple of things we try to do. One is we try to provide an account manager for our clients, which is either myself or bury my head of operations so that if that type of scope creep does happen, the consultant can tell us about it. And they don't have to go to the client and push back. Cause it doesn't feel good to have to do that. And then vice versa. If the clients, you know, has some sort of feedback for the consultant, they can tell us. And we are able to mediate that with the minimal amount of, you know, conflict or emotional response. So that's been very valuable.

Andrea Jones (19m 40s):

And then I think everybody, I I'd be curious to know if you experienced this in the last year of doing these interviews, people just kind of understand now, whereas before you kept your home at home and your work was work and, you know, heaven forbid that, you know, your kid would interrupt you in the middle of a call. I mean, that's just life, that's life. And people are very, very gracious about it. I would say these days,

Mark Graban (20m 4s):

I I've I've found that. So I mean, that, that's an interesting point where, you know, I would say it any more, it would really be viewed as a mistake for somebody on a zoom meeting, zoom conference call to get upset or snippy about the dog barking or a kid coming in the room. I think generally people would say, Hey, look, these are challenging times, have a little grace cut people. Some slack will that extend back to circumstances of work-life balance that aren't as visible, like when that child runs through the screen like that, that's really clear and obvious. And like you might say, oh, the kid's cute. Oh, it's okay.

Mark Graban (20m 45s):

Back to a regular workplace. Somebody needs time away from more for what might seem like sort of an invisible reason. I wonder if people will continue extending that grace or if, if, if it's going to be different.

Andrea Jones (21m 2s):

So I'm glad you're bringing it up because I think there is a huge opportunity that we have to allow for a bit more flexibility, whether people are in a full-time role or not, you know, it's not inconceivable to say here's the expectations I have for, you know, results, right. Presentations to be done this, to be ready, whatever. And by these times, and then lead adults figure out how to do it seems reasonable to me, that's how we built our business. So I guess I, you know, I think setting really clear expectations up front, if you can, you know, will lead to that.

Andrea Jones (21m 45s):

And I'm very hopeful that companies will start to offer those types of opportunities to be flexible and maybe look at it as more of a, maybe an agile type approach. Like instead of thinking, somebody's gotta be on all the time and how much can we cram into their work week is one of the most important things that we need to get done as a team. And how can we pull off the top and constantly be relooking at that, but have, you know, shorter increments of work so that we can pivot when the future changes because it is going to change. And I bet everybody now has a global pandemic on their risk mitigation strategy for the future where probably not very many folks had it on before that hopefully we can see some of that through, into the future.

Andrea Jones (22m 27s):

Have you seen other companies starting to look at that

Mark Graban (22m 30s):

And in terms of the flexibility dimension? Yes. But it's still in the context of the times that we're in right now as we're recording this in late April of 2021. So, you know, there's a software company I'm involved with called KaiNexus that is, is still extending a lot of that flexibility of where people are. Some people have re relocated across the country to different time zones for different reasons related to their family or to their life and the business keeps going on. So there there's been additional flexibility extended that way.

Mark Graban (23m 12s):

And I think that's just always been part of the mindset and the approach at the company to, to get flexibility, to not micromanage details about how and where, and when the work that gets done, like there's clearly is some work. There's some meetings that have to be done in a synchronous way. And then there's a lot of work that doesn't have to be. I think a lot of that's born from, you know, the CEO, Dr. Greg Jacobson, who was one of the early guests in this podcast. He's an ER, doctor who still occasionally works some ER shifts during the month.

Mark Graban (23m 52s):

So they might be night shifts or occasionally it's a 24 hour shift. So there are times when his schedule, every everyone else has to give him some grace around, okay, Greg's on available this Tuesday because he's worked at 24 hour ER, shift the night before, but he's still effective as a leader and as the CEO and things go on. So I think because he's got some of that circumstance in his own professional life, you know, he's, he's, he's a good guy where he, isn't going to ask others to do something he's not doing himself or not creating a separate standard for others. I think that's just good leadership. You know, that he's exhibiting,

Andrea Jones (24m 30s):

I, I agree. It's nice. And employees can see that he has something that's very meaningful that he's passionate about doing outside of this business, you know, and they can take that as a role model and example, I think that's great. You know, the other thing is I do hope we get to still experiencing each other in person. You know, I think the ideal model for us, or maybe me personally, is if we could kick off projects in person, right. Spend a few days together, have a meal together, build some rapport, some friendships and context around each other's lives, get to know each other. Then after that, I think a quarterly refresher is pretty much, I wouldn't say all you need, and that's certainly not every project or every situation, but it does feel like if every 90 days you can get to see each other and re up that tank after that, you can, you can go for a little while and be a little more productive.

Andrea Jones (25m 23s):

The other thing I want to mention, because maybe companies will listen to this and think, yeah, it's really hard to be that flexible. We're still paying people XYZ. And if we're not getting that type of productivity out of them, how can we afford that? I actually think that people are willing to take less pay for this type of flexibility and really believe that, you know, my people, we don't pay full-time salaries. We can't do that. We're not billing people full-time, but they're very happy to, you know, obviously be compensated fairly compensated well for the hours they work, but don't need that crazy. Excess people are realizing that again, the time value of life, you just not going to get it back. You know, I took my kids to the pool last Friday afternoon because there was an in-service day and the kids have a half day.

Andrea Jones (26m 4s):

And I mean, Friday afternoon, I'm picking my kids up at noon and I'm taking them to an outdoor pool. You can't do that with most employers, but I'm not going to be able to do that with them all the time. You know, I want to do that.

Mark Graban (26m 16s):

One of the questions I wanted to ask you made reference to it, you know, that your team is not all moms, it's not necessarily all women that you do have some men on the team. Have you found that? Is it similar circumstances where there, there are men, whether they are dads or not, where there's a similar appeal to having the flexibility of doing a job that would normally have to be a full-time job on a less than full-time basis.

Andrea Jones (26m 42s):

We had a dad on our bench and his wife was a radiologist is radiologist. So, you know, he was in a sort of flip model situation and, and love the model. We have two gentlemen that are, you know, maybe they've worked a full and productive career and they're like, and I think this is another wonderful and unexplored tap, untapped resource or demographic is the almost retirees. You know, like if you've been working full-time plus for 40 years and you don't want to step away from it completely, you have a lot to offer, but you also don't want to push those kinds of hours anymore. We have some folks in that situation, women, men, you know, I think it's great. And, and our clients are benefiting from their expertise.

Mark Graban (27m 24s):

I've, I've seen that work really well. There's a large really well-known lean management process improvement firm that it's not exclusive of their model, but generally they'll take somebody who's been a plant manager vice-president of manufacturing. They take an early ish retirement from their company, and then they can, I, at least at the time they could choose that they want to work. How many weeks, a month, full time, three weeks a month, two weeks a month. I don't know if they let anyone work just one week a month, but, but I, yeah, I think it was a similar type of thing. So how to, and then, you know, I'd be curious to see as expectations evolve for different reasons.

Mark Graban (28m 6s):

Are there younger people who, whose, whose personal family overall situation makes that compatible for them to

Andrea Jones (28m 15s):

Definitely. Yeah. I think there's a lot of things people want to do in life. I don't think everybody thinks it's all about money these days, if they ever did right. That might've just been a perception. And, and for us too, right. We could obviously be a more profitable company if I was pushing everybody out at more than full-time billables and paying them all salaries and recouping the excess. I mean, I just, that doesn't feel good. It doesn't sit right. It doesn't align with our beliefs at all. We want to be doing this for helping people and feeling like we're really contributing.

Mark Graban (28m 48s):

So again, our guest has been Andrea Jones, her firm is Andrea Jones consulting. And one of the things I'd like to touch on before we wrap up, cause I, I know we have a shared interest in this idea of thinking about change as a series of experiments. So wondering if you could share some of your thoughts on, on what that means to you. Why is that important?

Andrea Jones (29m 12s):

Yes. Thank you for asking. I think that life is about trying things and recognizing that they're not always going to turn out the way you thought they would, maybe when you got started, you know, the consulting company case in point, right? I didn't think I would consult. I thought it would be an Intel. I didn't think I'd have employees turns out. That's great. I love it. And I think, you know, you've probably heard people say, fail fail often, fail quickly, fail fast. But the difference is you have to be ready and had to admit that right. And really except reality. So if you can say this didn't go well.

Andrea Jones (29m 54s):

And, and mea culpa, if it's your fault and almost to a fault, if you can admit or accept some level of the blame, especially as a leader, I think everybody will be much more open to having a productive conversation about what really happened without getting to that feeling of I'm being blamed for this and fear, you know, and gets you past it faster. It it's, it's just like you said, it's an experiment. I think Simon Sinek is now going and calling this an infinite game. Have you heard this new phrase from him that work and life in general is an infinite game. It's not a game where there's a finite point that you have to win or lose, right.

Andrea Jones (30m 36s):

It's going to keep going. So because of that, we get to experiment. We get to make these mistakes. We get to try again. And if we can admit that and show that level of vulnerability with those around us, especially in leadership positions, everybody's just going to get there a whole lot faster. And I love that, right? I make little mistakes every single day. Like just this morning I sent out an invoice without putting a specific piece of information on it that I probably should have put on it. And I will not make that mistake again. I think just the little things that happen, but without being open to knowing, yeah, I'm, I'm fallible and maybe that's the whole theme of this. I can make mistakes and it's going to be okay.

Andrea Jones (31m 16s):

It's going to be okay. And we're all in it together. If you can have a team that's there to support you all the much better, you know? And, and it's just human and we're all in it together. We want to help each other be better.

Mark Graban (31m 28s):

Yeah. We all make mistakes. And I mean, this hearkens back to more, I think this was Richard Nixon, Watergate era phrase. It's not the crime, it's the coverup. And I'm not saying mistakes are crimes. But like you said, when people are pressured, when there's a culture of fear where they can't speak up, then that means mistakes. Just keep going and perpetuating. Like, I don't know all the details about it, but I saw a story from Ontario Canada the other day where the headline was, you know, six patients had been mistakenly injected with saline instead of vaccine.

Mark Graban (32m 11s):

Now, you know, the vaccine from Pfizer gets diluted with saline. And so at some point, somebody discovered, and I'm guessing that there are process checks where what I do know from looking at vaccination sites is that the vials are tracked and counted very carefully for traceability. And it's logged on your vaccine, the vaccine card and all that. So at some point there must have been an oh bleep moment where somebody realized, okay, our count is off what we've got this vile and what happened. And somebody was able to trace through and figure out we must've injected them with saline. Like this would, is couldn't have been necessarily observed, but you would have to kind of in, in, you know, kind of problem solve your way to figuring out that must have been what happened.

Mark Graban (33m 1s):

Now, I'll give credit whatever the dynamics were in that organization. Like clearly somebody felt safe to speak up because otherwise you think of the harm to those six people. If somebody had felt ashamed, embarrassed to the point where they somehow covered that up, those are six people now who think they're vaccinated, who were not. So, I mean, I think, you know, some people might look at that story and say, well, how could that happen? Well, to your point, Andrea people are human. You know, we can try to design systems that make it impossible for somebody to make an error, whether it's with the invoice or something like vaccination.

Mark Graban (33m 42s):

And, and that's why we explore that. So often here on this podcast. So anyway, just random, random, random, random sidetrack.

Andrea Jones (33m 50s):

Well, I think it's great that you are shedding light to this topic, right? Like my favorite mistake implies that there's a lot of good that can come out of mistakes and that's very true. So thank you for doing it.

Mark Graban (34m 1s):

Yeah. Well, and thank you for being the Gaston sharing. You know, not just your story up front, but as you've gone through this experiment of starting a business and then starting to grow it in a different way, and I'm sure at some point that first, well, I mean, it sounds like you had a solid hypothesis, but there were experiments with the part-time model and it seems like that's working out actually

Andrea Jones (34m 24s):

They're all experiments. I mean, we've learned so many things I would take years to go through all of them.

Mark Graban (34m 32s):

Well, and I'm glad you agreed to do the experiment of doing the episode today.

Andrea Jones (34m 39s):

Thanks again for letting me participate.

Mark Graban (34m 41s):

Thank you for doing that. All right.

Andrea Jones (34m 42s):

Take care.

Mark Graban (34m 43s):

Thanks again to Andrea for being our guests today for links, show notes and more information about Andrea and her work. You can go to As always. I want to thank you for listening. I hope this podcast inspires you to reflect on your own mistakes, how you can learn from them or turn them into a positive I've had listeners tell me that they started being more open and honest about mistakes in their work. And they're trying to create a workplace culture where it's safe to speak up about problems because that leads to more improvement and better business results. If you have feedback or a story to share, you can email me And again, our website is

Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. His latest book is Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. He also published the anthology Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus. He is also a Senior Advisor and Director of Strategic Marketing with the healthcare advisory firm, Value Capture.