Treating Failure like a Scientist
Leadership Coach, Front of Room Leader and Systemic Change Guide

Many companies seek to be more agile, customer centred, and innovative these days. Yet agile and innovation are still buzz words rather than actual practice within many organisations.
A coaching client has recently pinned down the one big hurdle for companies in their endeavour to respond to the need of being more agile and innovative: The “no mistakes” culture with its zero tolerance for failure is still predominant in European organisations. It’s frustrating.

More importantly, zero tolerance for failure is a deal breaker for innovation.

By definition innovation is only possible when we dare venture into unknown territories. To do that we need courage to test new ground, resilience to deal with setbacks, and creativity to work with what’s coming up.

It’s simple: When there is no trodden path, there’s a higher risk of misstepping.

For sure, we can equip ourselves well, from proper footwear to a good torchlight, and some extra time. Because we might get lost when forging a new path, and we might get stuck in the mud before moving on.
Similarly, when we create new products or processes, or seek to engage new customers, we need a few supporting tools. But most of all we need a culture that makes it safe to fail, so we can dare try out something new. We can have either one or the other. Learning through failure, or staying safe and doing everything exactly as it’s always been done.

To allow ourselves and others to be innovative and take a risks, let’s treat failure like a scientist.

In other words, let’s give ourselves credit for creating data, both if we fail and succeed. Let’s be willing to openly share and analyse our findings of what worked and also what didn’t work. Thus we enable our community to build on our learnings and move a step further. Change sometimes involves three steps forward, and two steps back.

It helps to expect failure on the way to success.

For leadership coaching and developement, get in touch

You might also like…

The is no ‘I’ in TEAM. Nonsense.
The is no ‘I’ in TEAM. Nonsense.

You’ve likely heard the old chestnut “There is no ‘I’ in TEAM.” Whether said in jest, or in dead seriousness, it is simply not true. If you want to have a team which can navigate complexity and uncertainty, you need to recognise that it is filled with ‘I’s. Why?...

Originals! How to be one, how to appreciate one
Originals! How to be one, how to appreciate one

How do you go about when you’re looking to break the mold? When you are searching for new ideas as your team faces new challenges? Adam Grant makes the case for turning to the disruptors on your team and busts a bunch of myths that inform our thinking around the non-conformists who…

Innovation and Psychological Safety
Innovation and Psychological Safety

In many companies innovation and agility are more than core values. They are the life blood of the business in a competitive environment. Yet while many people who work in these companies espouse those values, they suffer in toxic teams. They fear making mistakes...

Share This