Experienced leaders know that failure is not necessarily a negative, and can lead to both individual and organizational learning. We try to embrace failure and create a culture where appropriate failure is accepted as long as it’s learned from, giving our team members the space and support to fail. That creates learning and innovation.
Preferably the possibility of failure is an intentional result. To achieve this positive outcome an experiment is defined, with expected potential outcomes identified, and then there is an intentional reflection activity on what actually happened. This reflection creates the learning and becomes the foundation for future experiments. Many of us are beginning to see this manifestation of the PDCA process as kata.
Sometimes it’s unintentional, where we are thrust into an unexpected situation with even more unexpected results. An family medical emergency years ago taught me a lot about compassion, self-care, and the insurance industry. Two decades ago a rapid change in an industry taught me how to manage extreme business disruption.
And, yes, sometimes it’s just stupidity. Most of us have experienced this often particularly painful form of learning in our (hopefully) earlier years. Somehow we survived.
Continue reading on the Gemba Academy blog…
John Hunter says
I agree, I wrote about this on my blog: Accept Taking Risks, Don’t Blithely Accept Failure Though https://management.curiouscatblog.net/2013/02/13/accept-taking-risks-dont-blithely-accept-failure-though/
“The goal is to maximize innovation and improvement. To the extent we need to take risks and accept some failures to achieve this we should accept failure. But that doesn’t mean we don’t continually try to improve our management systems to reduce the costs of failure. Even while we take risks we want to do so intelligently.”
Another related post: Learn by Seeking Knowledge – Not Just from Mistakes https://management.curiouscatblog.net/2011/03/07/learn-by-seeking-knowledge-not-just-from-mistakes/
Jimmy Mendillo says
Thanks Kevin. As a university student studying lean, I have experienced quite a but of failure through some of my internships. Luckily my workplaces embraced a “learn from failure mentality,” which has tremendously helped me grow as a thinker. As someone who plans to manage one day, I know to challenge employees/processes/etc enough that they may fail, but not enough to create a serious problem.