How do you handle failure at home, at school, or at work? Do you plan for it?

Today Peter Sims wrote about my favorite topic Failure in an article for the HBR Blog titled “The No. 1 Enemy of Creativity: Fear of Failure.”  Sims comments on how parents, teachers, and bosses all push us to prevent errors and mitigate risks.  He points out how entrepreneurs and designers have a different frame of mind toward failure seeing “mistakes” as part of the trial-and-error processes of driving innovation.  Sims calls for each of us to revolt against this thinking and to no longer be “shackled by these norms.”

This is not necessary new thinking but it was a good summary of the challenge innovators face in a world with a narrow tolerance for failure.  I have include a few video links of my favorite thinkers in this space at the end of this post: Dan Pink on Creativity and Design, Sir Ken Robinson on Creativity in Education, and Eric Ries on Rapid Experimentation / Minimum Viable Products.

The one piece of the article that I found most interesting was how GE CEO Jeff Immelt and CMO Beth Comstock are advancing this thinking with GE’s Innovation Accelerator.  For an organization that has been the poster child of the six sigma business management strategy that strives for zero defects this is quite a revelation!  In manufacturing processes zero defects makes perfect sense… in driving innovation not so much.

Maybe someday we will be able to reconcile the role of failure in raising our kids, teaching our students, and driving our businesses?


Dan Pink (speaking at Best Buy): the importance of creativity and design

Sir Ken Robinson (TED Talk): how our educational system is killing creativity

Eric Ries (Wired Business Conference): the strategy behind rapid low cost experiments & minimum viable products


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