Last year I began writing an online column for Pollen titled Facing Failure as an effort to spark a discussion on the importance of failure in driving innovation in the non-profit, education, and government sectors. Most of us would prefer to avoid failure and the pain that it can cause but to truly create something new mistakes will need to be made along the way. In politics, a “failed” initiative can quickly sabotage a political career which is why most politicians are quick to dismiss or gloss over their shortcomings. But there are some politicians are trying to reframe the discussion with candor and transparency. I am excited to share my recent interview with one such politician, former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak.
When executives are allowed to hide their innovation failures the entire organization suffers. False expectations are set for the entire group of executives, innovation leaders see their careers scuttled, and every other employee fails to learn from the failure. Without clear organizational expectations of documenting, sharing, and learning from our failures we will continue to see them covered up. Left to our own devices we will naturally seek to avoid our failures and move into self-preservation mode. In my work helping organizations to build strong innovation processes this is a common issue but it can be resolved.
As a follow up to my post last year about how we need to “learn to tolerate failure… even in the medical profession” I wanted to share this TEDx presentation (Doctors make mistakes. Can we talk about that?) from Dr. Brian Goldman (@NightShiftMD). In it Dr. Goldman captures perfectly the flawed logic of how we all try to portray perfection in our work, especially those god like creates called doctors. In business our failures can cost money or even jobs but in medicine our failures can cost lives. And not just the life of patient who suffered from the original error but the lives of other patients based on the repetition of that same error because it is never shared and thus never learned from.
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