Let’s face it – failure sucks. That’s how it feels and that’s how it will always feel. That is because we have two mental responses – husitics or biases -that make us feel bad: negativity bias and loss aversion.
These serve us well; those that notice negative things in the environment tend to survive in dangerous situations like jungles. That makes sense, doesn’t it. And, loss aversion makes losing something feel proportionally worse than the feel good from gaining the same amount, like the bad feeling from losing $10will be greater than the feel good from winning $100. True story.
Yet, if we are going to succeed in today’s environment, we must innovate and to do that we have to do things we haven’t done before and that requires some risk taking and experimenting.
“If you want to increase your success rate, double your failure rate”.
So, even though we are programmed to avoid failure, we have to get on with it. Just keep in mind that failure is not a goal – it is a tool. You don;t have to seek it out. If you are taking calculated risks, it will find you.
“If you’re not prepared to be wrong,
you’ll never come up with anything original”
Sir Ken Robinson.
Here are some suggestions others recommend to build teams resilient to failures along the path to success (heads up we saved our favorite til the end):
- Senior Faculty at Lean Startup Co, Jonathan Bertfield, warns to Fail Fast: There are Epic failures cost huge amounts of time, money and emotion and there are fast failures. These emerge when teams are free of angst, incentivised and quickly identify weak points in a plan. These fast failures are drivers of powerful discovery.
- Author of Lean UX and Sense and Respond, Jeff Gothelf, says to take Small Bites: Ask what is the first or next thing we need to learn and what is the smallest investment (time, energy, money) required to achieve that?”.
- Founder of Produx Labs, Melissa Perri, encourages to Celebrate Early: when you catch that something is not going in the right direct, celebrate!
- L&D SYPartners and Lecturer at Parsons, Mathias Jakobsen, shares how to Extract Learnings: Debrief each failure to extract the learnings.
- President of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, Ed Catmull, advice is to Show Developments: Show your work in an incomplete state to everyone you can and encourage comments.
- Founder and CEO of ExecCamp and Co-Author of Lean Enterprise, Barry O’Reily, says to Eat Failure Cake: It is not the failure you celebrate, it is learning AND resulting action. Consciously process and fully own your failures, all while eating ‘Failure Cake’.
- Co-founder of ADA’s List, Former Head of Innovation at PHD UK, Anjali Ramachandran, encourages Celebrate More Reward Less: Reward success BUT focus on celebrating failures regularly, in a structured manner.
- Google about Work Team, Make it Safe: Make it so it is safe for teammates to take risks around their team members.
- Founder and CEO of Precoll, David J Bland, Redefine Failure: Failure is when a result is inconclusive.
A personal favorite
- M.D., CEO NeuroBusiness Group, Assistant Professor Harvard Medical School, Srini Pillay, informs we can Heal & Rewire: Your brain can overcome strokes, infections and inflammation. It is wired to recover from failure.
You won’t enjoy it – you never will, but it is essential to growth, so get on with it and celebrate.