My article on Linked2Leadership – Hey Leaders: Failure Isn’t a Dirty Word

Linked2Leadership published my article yesterday titled “Hey Leaders: Failure Isn’t a Dirty Word.”  In the article I describe how avoidance is a natural psychological response to failure but by doing so we miss out on the opportunity to learn from our mistakes. I go on to describe some of the key takeaways from each failure and how it is rarely beneficial to seek to place blame when sharing internal failures since it almost never never lies with just one source.  I finish the article with a reminder that the for innovation to be part of a repeatable cycle you cannot short circuit the failure process and you must treat your innovation leaders well if you want the organization to continue taking risks.

I have copied the first part of the post below and linked to the complete article.


Failure. It’s a word that evokes fear. And for good reason: We’re taught to avoid it at all costs.

And when it happens, “never admit it!”

Failure = Bad
Our brains automatically try to distort, deny, or manipulate our sense of reality to make failure less damaging to our ego. Beyond that, we’re also protecting our livelihoods. After all, failure could lead to the loss of a job or hard-built reputation, which could not only harm us but the families that depend on us.

As a leader, failure all too often is equated with the fear of losing your organization, your department, and your people.

It’s Not all Bad
In manufacturing, the goal is to eliminate failure from the processes by driving toward zero defects—a goal based on the routine nature and highly probable outcomes of the process. But innovation is a little different.

Innovative timelines can be three to five years (or more) and it’s much more difficult to predict the future. The more uncertainty involved, the higher the probability the project will fail to meet objectives.

Failure is a possible (and sometimes more probable) outcome from work in driving innovation. If we decide to ignore our failures, sweep them under the rug or run in the opposite direction, we will never have the opportunity to learn from our mistakes.



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