Crossroads

At the intersection of technology, finance and the Pacific Rim.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Failure

We all have a fear of it. This from Business Week:

But intelligent failures -- those that happen early and inexpensively and that contribute new insights about your customers -- should be more than just tolerable. They should be encouraged. "Figuring out how to master this process of failing fast and failing cheap and fumbling toward success is probably the most important thing companies have to get good at," says Scott Anthony, the managing director at consulting firm Innosight."Getting good" at failure, however, doesn't mean creating anarchy out of organization. It means leaders -- not just on a podium at the annual meeting, but in the trenches, every day -- who create an environment safe for taking risks and who share stories of their own mistakes. It means bringing in outsiders unattached to a project's past. It means carving out time to reflect on failure, not just success.

Perhaps most important, it means designing ways to measure performance that balance accountability with the freedom to make mistakes. People may fear failure, but they fear the consequences of it even more. "The performance culture really is in deep conflict with the learning culture," says Paul J. H. Schoemaker, CEO of consulting firm Decision Strategies International Inc. "It's an unusual executive who can balance these."

And to add to the above, there are two things you need to make sure of in promoting this culture of "learning to fail" (as opposed to "failing to learn"). First, as they point out, fail early, not late; late failure is expensive. Second, have at least an inkling when you push out to the beyond where the failure can come from (and the upside as well) and watch it closely--have the scenarios of failure and upside mapped out in your mind. Know when to pull the plug beforehand.

1 Comments:

Blogger Jinwoo IM said...

Hmm... Whenever I meet a variety of failures, I am likely to be depressed for a while. At those times, I tend to devaluate myself rather than evalute myself more objectively to learn something.

I know the importance of learning from failures because now is the time to learn it relatively chiefly.

4:10 PM  

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