We often hear about the importance of failure when driving new ideas or new businesses. We’re given advice to Fail Early, Fail Often, and Fail Cheap. While this well-meaning advice is accurate on the whole the reality is that failure in most organizations comes with pretty heavy consequences. Within mature organizations a failed initiative can have a dramatic impact for both the individual and the long term success of organization itself.
This article is the first in my new series of Failure Forums published in Innovation Excellence. The series is focused on bringing the role of innovation failure to the forefront. It will intentionally bypass the innovation success stories to focus on the lessons learned from failures. It is never easy to disclose our professional failures but these brave innovation practitioners are doing exactly that so that others can learn from their experiences. This is the story of Jeff Stratman, a corporate innovator, and his journey to launch a new corporate venture called Orgango.
For the longest time business and military leaders wouldn’t dare utter the word failure in front of their organizations. For many the credo was that failure wasn’t an option. Times have certainly changed but many organizations are just scratching the surface in addressing the difficult issues surrounding failure.
With so many people preaching advice on failure these days (Fail Early, Fail Fast, Fail Often) I thought it might be worth trying to clarify the difference between a failure and a mistake. So often the media loves to amplify the drama surrounding failures by highlighting all of the negative connotations. Words like nosedive, bomb, flop and collapse are frequent synonyms used for failing and each one tries to convey the severity of a failure that may or may not be appropriate. By working toward a common definition we may be able to short circuit the negative implications and fear that many people have with the word failure.
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