Celebrate learning through failure

When we create environments that encourage experimentation, when we are predisposed to discuss ideas in an inquisitive and constructive way and we accept failure as a lever for iterative learning processes, we’re innovating.

The failure is a necessary part of the process of innovation, because from failure comes learning, iteration, adaptation and construction of new physical and conceptual models.

To put it another way with the words of Edward d. Hess “What we found is that innovation requires a mindset that rejects the fear of failure and replaces that fear of failure with the joy of exploration and experimental learning. We also found that innovation organizations understand that failures are a necessity (in as much as 90% of the time) so long as the learning comes from small risk experiments.

As one innovation leader stated: “we celebrate success; we console failure; and we get rid of those who are afraid to try”.

To fail should be understood in an environment where change carries new market opportunities, new desires and new skills.

To fail does not mean throwing out the entire investment! Fail can mean stop at the right time!

To fail may be the right time to reflect on new business models, to reorganize the company, to re-evaluate the investments made and turn them into launching pad for innovation in a new context and with available resources more meaningful and less costly.

What before was not viable can be today, and the ideas or concepts can be adjusted to new realities as a result of learning.

To learn from failures it is necessary to understand them and some authors suggest a model to review the past failures and from them remove the innovation strategy to implement.

“Understanding this framework provides enterprises with an opportunity to revisit past failures, compare them to today’s realities, and more quickly and efficiently leverage past “failed” concepts.- Vijay Govindarajan

And why should we celebrate failure?

The only reason to celebrate the failure is if we can learn something useful with it. And the only way we can do this is by placing the logic of initiative in rigorously question in advance. This means specifying the expected results and systematically specify what would have to be true for the initiative to succeed. What would that be true about the industry, about customers, about our capabilities, about competitors? “

But what is true about our fear of fail?

Why do I see elephants where there are ants?

May be because there are four values that when combined form an explosive mixture of fear, values that we assume as being fundamental to success. Counteract these values can be a nightmare for some people.

Chris Argyris, delineated what he calls governing values behind most human interactions:

– To win and not lose in any interaction.

– To always keep control of the situations at hand.

– To avoid embarrassment of any kind.

– To stay rational throughout. ”

What lingers in the majority of people who do not tolerate failure is the constant thought that if they fail, the others may change their assessments and withdraw the delegated responsibilities to avoid another failure.

To celebrate learning with the failure, in my opinion, will only be possible if in fact it exist in organizations a new attitude on the part of managers of companies that translates into:

-Predisposition to understand the conditions under which the errors occurred. Accept the errors as levers to innovate.

-Adapt the passions to new realities. The dream environment can evolve.

-Creation of new competences in relation to the development of markets and new technologies. The change brings almost always resistance.

“The single biggest reason companies fail is they over invest in excess in what is, as opposed to what might be.” – Gary Hamel

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