"My favourite mistake" - how we learn at PPL

posted 21 November 2018 in category Upskilling Working at PPL How We Learn Organisational Culture

The second in a series of features from our PPL Impact Report, available for download below. 


How do you feel about failure? Do you run from it at all costs? Perhaps you see it as an unpleasant but unavoidable part of life? Or maybe you welcome it as an opportunity? Your answers to these questions are more important than you might think, a fact highlighted by the research of Dr. Carol Dweck and her team into fixed and growth mindsets. Their work has shown that attitudes to failure, and beliefs about our ability to learn, have a direct impact on our personal success and achievement.

If you spend any time at the PPL office these days, you’ll hear us talking a lot about the growth mindset. It’s a core part of our overall approach to learning: How We Learn. We’re giving people permission to say ‘I made a mistake’ without fear of blame. We’re encouraging people to give, and receive, useful and meaningful feedback. We’re developing a culture that encourages people to keep asking the question ‘what do I not know…yet?’. This mindset shift is especially important in the world of consultancy where an unhealthy drive for perfectionism can often lead to unrealistic standards and an unwillingness to admit to mistakes.

How We Learn is part of PPL’s aim to keep people firmly at the heart of every project. We recognise that lasting results for our clients are not possible without ensuring that our people have the right support, skills, knowledge and motivation to succeed. We created How We Learn to ensure that every member of the PPL team can maximise their potential and, by doing so, can achieve outstanding results for themselves and the public services and communities they support. 

How We Learn is centred around a modular training programme that covers the core skills needed to be successful at PPL. Each session is very practical and provides a valuable opportunity for the team to come together and solve complex real-to-life problems with opportunities for feedback and reflection. Most importantly, these practical sessions provide an opportunity to try – and fail – in a safe space with a clear focus on learning.

How We Learn is much more than a training programme, however. It encompasses everything we do at PPL. From proactively looking for signs of a growth mindset during recruitment, to induction, annual reviews, and people management conversations, we are constantly seeking ways to embed learning and growth into every important milestone and moment in an individual’s time at PPL. 

In keeping with the growth mindset, we don’t claim to have achieved learning perfection just yet. This is an ever evolving and expanding process. And we’ve made mistakes along the way (ask me about these over a coffee one day)! But we’re really proud to be doing something that acknowledges and celebrates the perfectible nature of the human condition, and in doing so encourages people to strive to be the very best that they can be.