Creating A Culture Of Failure

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Too often today businesses stagnate due to one-directional thinking fostered by a lack of thought / idea diversification.  In an ecosystem where failure isn’t only encouraged it’s a requisite, we find a unique growth opportunity.  If properly nurtured via process / rigor we have the ability as a business to take programmatic failure and leverage it to surpass competitors and avoid product / process stagnation.


Got it, create a culture of accountability and an environment where it’s okay to say “Yea that was me, I made that mistake…”


Soooo…How do we create a culture of these “shot takers” – individuals willing to “call their pocket” before they shoot – not after – not safe.  These are the individuals that move businesses forward…


Here’s the problem – we’re conditioned to not be these people.  From a very young age (with very few exceptions) societally we’re conditioned to follow and conform – ideas are welcome if they fit within the existing paradigm – have a grand thought?  Heretic – fuck you – stoned.


You can actually trace this conditioning back to tribal times…

A radical in tribal times could have dire consequences for the safety of the rest of the population.  Tribes function due to a defined leader – same as packs (animalistic view) with continued competition the pack or tribe is divided and a unit divided is at a disadvantage.


Fast forward thousands of years and this behavior rears its head in the corporate world as a “yes” man or woman.  The employee that rather than speak up in a meeting will eat their words, carry out orders even though they know they are wrong.


The fix starts at the top.  Leaders need to find mistakes initially – they need to publicly acknowledge the mistake, the person that made it and then let everyone else know that… hey… it’s okay to make mistakes – we’re human – it’s going to happen.


One of the things I believe in my core is this presupposition: “People are essentially good and are doing the best they can with the knowledge they have.”


Here are some 101 rules for creating “A Culture Of Failure”:

  • Your team members have a forum where they can make meaningful suggestions that are enacted
  • You can measure those initiatives
  • You formally report on them in a set cadence and publicly acknowledge successes and failures with equal vigor as they are both vitally important

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