Business2Community just published my article “A Look In The Mirror: Learning From Failure” yesterday. In the article I describe how organizations need to address their failures instead of running from them if they are truly going to learn. I suggested that an organization’s HR function can act as a catalyst in addressing failures by creating an opportunity to share the lessons learned with the entire organization. One way that an organization can start building in a tolerance for failure is by having their own Failure Forums where they address each failure with three questions: 1) What did the team accomplish?, 2) What did the team learn?, and 3) What would they have done differently? If every organization would embrace failure in this way I guarantee that we would see a significant improvement in innovation by reducing our fear of failure.
Back in 2009 Silicon Valley entrepreneur Eric Ries (@ericries) had coined the term “pivot” for the technique used by tech startups to change the strategic direction of their companies based on what they had learned (see his original post here). The theory goes that by doing you are actually learning something along the way (see my previous post on learning from feedback loops in systems thinking) and that you might find the “something” that you had learned has a better chance of success than your original strategy. The alternative is that at least it will enable you to extend your organization’s runway further out into the future in search of success.
Just the other day I had realized that I had passed the fifteen year mark since I graduated from b-school. After my initial shock of how long ago that really was I began trying to summarize what I had learned from those 2 years of my life. While I recall very few of the details from the hundreds of case studies that were read, there were a few insights that I was able to recall but there were three that seemed to stand out compared to the rest.
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