Failure knows no distinction to whether our institution is in business, government, education, or the nonprofit sector. Facing Failure is a new monthly series that I have launched today with the civic-minded publication Pollen. The goal for this column is to bring the topic of failure to the forefront of our civic conversations in an attempt to remove the negative stigma. I intend to do this by sharing stories and the lessons learned from business, nonprofit, education, and government sector failures. The best hope for this column would be that we are able to learn from each other and strengthen our Pollen community. If you have a story that you would like to share please reach out and connect via my contact information below.
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?
A friend and former colleague who knows of my interest and passion for better understanding failure had forwarded a link to me a few months back for www.admittingfailure.com. The site is hosted by Ashley Good from the group Engineers Without Borders Canada (EWBC). Ashley launched the site in January 2011 as part of a growing movement in bringing transparency to failures in the international development sphere. The people working in the non-profit sector are not much different to those working in for-profit businesses when it comes to failure. A statement from the site notes that “The development community is failing…to learn from failure. Instead of recognizing these experiences as learning opportunities, we hide them away out of fear and embarrassment.”
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