Historically we have been taught that failure is unacceptable. We have translated this perspective into a view that treats failure in the workplace as a cost or liability. Consequently, we have created cultures where failure is hidden, rather than one where we embrace failure.
So, when someone fails at something they hide it. Someone else tries a similar thing and it fails too – because it just doesn’t work – and they hide it too. A third person eventually tries it and it still doesn’t work. What have we cost the company by not encouraging the first individual to share their failure, and allowing persons 2 and 3 to learn from it and try something different – if they are going to fail rather fail at something new than the same old thing. Eventually, someone will crack the problem and each iteration before was an asset they were able to build on in order to succeed.
The Tuesday Tip!
3M used to have “Failure Forums” where individuals were encouraged to bring problems they were having for discussion with others, or present examples of failure for others to learn from. Post-It notes were a product that developed out of this structure when an engineer shared his experience in making a glue that didn’t work with paper because the molecules were too big.
Try desensitise your business around failure. Teach the team to see it as an opportunity to improve and learn.
Are you brave enough to promote this saying: “Punish mediocre success, and reward massive failure”?