by debMaes 

May 2, 2018

Famously said by Thomas J. Watson:
“If you want to increase your success rate, double your failure rate”
and Sir Ken Robinson:
“If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.”

But let’s be truthful – failure sucks and that is because we have two brain functions that make failure feel bad: negativity bias and loss aversion
Negativity bias causes us to notice negative things in our environment. You can imagine how that helps keep us alive in dangers jungle like situations
And loss aversion makes ‘missing out’ feel much worse than the feel good of winning. For example, if I lose $10 in the morning and win $100 in the afternoon, I’ll still feel bad about the morning’s loss.

So, suck it up – our brain isn’t going to let us like failing – just get on with it, because if we are going to succeed, we need to innovate, and to do that we need to do new things and have new ideas and not every idea is going to be a good one, but it’s essential nonetheless.

One word of caution, while we can resist failure too much, we can also go too far in the opposite direction. Failure is not a goal, it is a tool–just like success. Sure we want to help teams and ourselves become more accustomed to failure, but that doesn’t mean you need to seek it out. If you’re taking risks, it will find you anyway.

Here are the 13 best suggestions I’ve found on how to create a more failure-tolerant teams (from literature and people known as builders, thinkers, and troublemakers):
1. Make Small Bets
Ask yourself or team, “What’s the most important thing we need to learn next/first?” And then ask, “What’s the least amount of work we need to do to learn that?” This way, if it’s wrong, we can more easily move on.”
Jeff Gothelf, Author of Lean UX and Sense and Respond
2. Celebrate
“Celebrate squashing bad ideas early. Look at how much time and money is saved by not pursuing it fully.”
Melissa Perri, Founder of Produx Labs
3. Extract Learnings
“Failures are not good in themselves. So, debrief each one and extract learnings that can be implemented.”
Mathias Jakobsen, L&D at SYPartners and Lecturer at Parsons
4. Show Your Work
“…although the director makes decisions, show work in an incomplete state to the whole crew, and encourage everyone to comment.”
Ed Catmull, President of Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Animation Studios
5. Let Yourself Heal
“Your brain can recover from strokes, infections, and all kinds of inflammation. It’s wired to recover from failure.”
Srini Pillay, M.D., CEO NeuroBusiness Group, Assistant Professor Harvard Medical School
6. Fail Fast
“There are different types of failure, not all worthy of respect; Epic failures, that only emerge after making large investments of time, treasure and emotion, are the arch nemesis; fast failures, that emerge when teams are free of angst, are incentivized towards outcomes and quickly uncover weak points in a plan, are the drivers of powerful discovery.”
Jonathan Bertfield, Senior Faculty at Lean Startup Co.
7. Eat Failure Cake
“It’s not the failure to celebrate; it’s the learning, discussion and resulting action that follows. Have a conscious process to learn from failures and fully own them, and all the while eating failure cake.”
Barry O’Reilly , Founder and CEO of ExecCamp and Co-Author of Lean Enterprise
8. Celebrate More
“Reward success but focus on celebrate failures in a regular, structured manner.”
Anjali Ramachandran, Co-founder of Ada’s List , Former Head of Innovation at PHD UK
9. Pareto It
“Succeed 80% and fail 20% of the time. If you succeed more often than that, you’re too much within your comfort zone. You’re doing things that are too easy for you.”
Sami Honkonen, Entrepreneur, Podcast host, Speaker, Blogger, Metal vocalist
10. Create Psychological Safety
“Create high psychological safety, by making it safe for teammates to take risks around their team members.”
Google Re:Work Team
11. Redefine Failure
“The only time an experiment fails is when it’s inconclusive.”
JB Brown, Director at Peloton, Former Head of Innovation at Nordstrom
12. Use Inspiring Team Names
“Don’t name your teams after products. If your product ‘fails,’ then the team is identified with that failure.”
David J Bland, Founder & CEO of Precoil
13. Consciously Consume It
“Get higher-level leadership agreement on how specifically they’ll ‘consume’ failure…how specifically it could be measured and reported, ie put reportable value on learning.”
Boris Grinkot, Innovation Strategy Consultant
edit from article published SEP 16, 2016 on

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