Archives for February 2013

Do Our Clients Expect Perfection? A Follow Up to the Failure Wall

Last week I did a story about Dun & Bradstreet CEO Jeff Stibel (@Stibel) on how he had created a Failure Wall at his company in an attempt to build a tolerance for risk-taking and failure within the organization’s culture (Post Here).  I was just able to watch a similar interview that the Huffington Post had done a week prior with Jeff and three other guests.  I found the discussion with the other guests absolutely bizarre but worth addressing.  On one hand they were all praising Jeff for his ability to create a culture that has learned to tolerate failure without being fired.  But on the other hand they all expressed deep concern over what would happen if someone took a picture of someone’s failure from the wall and shared it on social media.  This is exactly the fear bordering on paranoia that Jeff is trying to address with his Failure Wall.

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Overcoming Our Fear of Failure by Writing Our Failure Resume

This week I published an article Why You Should Create Your Own ‘Failure Resume’ for the career blog Brazen Careerist.  In the article I suggest that we all need to move beyond our fear of failure, as individuals and organizations, and that by creating our own Failure Resume we can take the first step.  I have included an excerpt from the article [FULL ARTICLE LINK] that explains the what, why, and how of the failure resume:

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How One CEO Created a “Failure Wall” to Build a Tolerance for Failure Within His Organization

Back in 2011 I was researching the topic of failure within businesses and came across the story of Jeff Stibel, the CEO of Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp.  Jeff had written an article for HBR titled “Why I Hire People Who Fail” where he had described how he created a “Failure Wall” within the company.  Jeff sees failure as a great way to learn how to succeed and personally he had always felt that he learned so much more from his failures than from his successes.  When Jeff would recount his successes he was never sure if they were just good luck but with failures he knew where things went wrong.  One evening while he was celebrating a one of his company’s successes Jeff had gotten an idea for how to shape the company’s culture towards failure.  He went in into the office that night and with the help of his assistant he set out to create a Failure Wall.  They picked the biggest wall that they had, painted it white, and then started stenciling some of their favorite failure quotes.  Employees returning the next morning were encouraged to use a permanent marker to write down one of their failures, comment on what they had learned, and put their name to it.  Jeff led by example by sharing one of his personal failures – he felt that he and his wife had waited too long before starting to have children.

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An Example of Good: Non-Profit Embraces Transparency, Publishes Fifth Annual Failure Report

So everyone is talking about the importance of “transparency” in business these days – customer transparency, financial transparency, even radical transparency.  Do you think you organization is open and transparent?  Maybe your company uses social media to continually engage your constituents in every possible social media vehicle or maybe your CMO has been a little “overly transparent” when on more than one occasion he shared a corporate secret via his new blog.  Sure you’ll talk about your wins, your new strategy, or your latest promotions but have you ever been transparent with your failures?  Have you ever published an annual report that detailed your failed initiatives and the failures in your operations?

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