Would You Have The Courage to Put Out a Failure Report?

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By Steve Moran

I will never forget the first time I met Kimberly Green the COO of Dikanos. I asked what her organization did that was unique or special, yet looking back I think I was kind of a jerk. That is not my usual style and it now embarresses me . . . (Kimberly I am sorry).  

Depsite my approach, Kimberly went on to explain that they love trying new things in order to improve the lives of residents, team members and even the bottom line of their business, which in their view -- and mine -- are all completely enmeshed.  

Google, Engineering and Failure

More recently I came across this article from Think Google titled The Surprising Benefits of Failure. The article suggests that technology companies should issue a quarterly failure report and celebrate their failures.

“What if we . . . . started not just admitting our missteps but celebrating them and sharing what we learned from them? That's the idea behind the quarterly failure report, a useful tool . . . [for] marketing leaders who are trying to instill a culture of growth. . . .

“This kind of report "really just highlights the biggest, most miserable test results that people have had recently, and what they've learned from it."

“The quarterly failure report has two goals. The first is to share what has been learned.   The second goal is to reinforce the culture of failing―and learning―fast.”

Senior Living Failures

As the article points out that failures are a part of life and an even bigger part of success. We have several things we can do with failures:

  1. We can bury them, which ultimately is a form of lying. This is a particularly tempting route when there is a fear of litigation. While in the short-term we might think it solves a problem, it doesn’t really because it sets the stage for that same problem to occur again. If and when that occurs, it will be very likely that the second or third time around the problem will be more spectacular.

  1. We can blame others. The blame targets are practically endless . . . the marketplace, competitors, the economy, other team members or even ex-team members. This makes it impossible to learn anything and will ultimately lead to things getting worse.

  1. The big win is when we celebrate failures. This means openly talking about what went wrong, why it went wrong and figuring out how to do it better next time.

Taking the 3rd approach makes failure a thing to embrace and not to hid from. How well do you fail in your culture?

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