“I haven’t failed. I’ve found 10,000 ways that don’t work.”
“The way to succeed is to double your failure rate.”
“What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?”
Lots of thoughts about failure, but it’s an important aspect of business life. It’s the consequence we must consider anytime we try something new. What if this new thing we’re trying doesn’t work out? What if the market doesn’t accept the new product we’re rolling out? What if we don’t reach the ambitious goals we set for ourselves next year? And sometimes, we do fail. We had what seemed like a good idea, we studied and researched it, we planned well, we executed well, but for some reason, it just didn’t work the way we thought it would.
We learn by our mistakes, don’t we? So then failures are a learning experience. They teach lessons about the business we are in and the markets we serve. Not that we should seek out failures or take them lightly when they happen, but nor should we jump out the nearest window. Successful organizations are places of learning. They get back up, brush themselves off, and say, “OK. Now what did we learn from that?” Unsuccessful organizations play the blame game and look for a scape goat.
So how do you treat failures in your organization? Not stupid mistakes or careless errors, but honest, good faith efforts that simply didn’t pan out. Is it OK to fail at your place? Do you punish those who show initiative and are willing to take a risk while rewarding those who keep their heads down and play it safe? Hopefully not.
In employee satisfaction surveys, “Being in a place where I can learn and grow” always ranks near the top of the list. So be a learning place. Treat failures, not as tragic events, but as teaching opportunities . . . lessons to be learned. You’ll attract and retain better people, and you’ll build a stronger, more dynamic, and more resilient organization.