Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A “F.A.I.L. to Succeed” Culture

Dave and I have given several presentations this year on the subject of failure, and the role of failure in success. As individuals, we have been taught that failure is a bad thing. Now I doubt that anyone sat each of us down and told us that failure is a terrible thing and that we should never, ever fail….or that any of us actually had a class on failure where we were told it was bad. But, all of life’s lessons, the things that we are encouraged to strive for, and the things that we might be admonished for, all potentially lead us to the conclusion that failure is bad.

Our presentation on failure is called “F.A.I.L. to Succeed” and, in it, we actually encourage people to take a few more risks and to not be afraid of failing. We offer a 4-step process to help individuals embrace the notion that failure is how we learn; that failure has lead to some of the greatest successes of our time. Now, I’m not going to go into all of the details here….because it would spoil the presentation for you! (but…..if you’d like to hear more about the tie-in between failure and success and how it can help empower your employees or group members and can lead to more innovation, give us a call. We’d love to bring “F.A.I.L. to Succeed” into your organization or company).

What I will discuss today is the idea of applying the “F.A.I.L. to Succeed” concept to company culture. Managers in a “F.A.I.L. to Succeed” culture understand that, for innovation to happen, employees need to have the space to envision, explore, experiment, and learn from any mistakes they might make in the process. A “F.A.I.L. to Succeed” culture is one where employees are rewarded for being flexible, taking risks, and trying new things; rather than being inflexible, sticking to the old tried and true ways, and doing things as they have always been done. What’s the old saying….. “If you keep doing what you’ve always done, then you’ll get what you’ve always got.” Not exactly the mantra of innovators, is it?!?!?

Now, don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean that management should simply let employees experiment randomly, never learning from their mistakes and never applying those lessons to the task at hand. This is a sure way to accomplish nothing but repeated mistakes, schedule and budget creep, and, eventually, a loss in profits.

Rather, in a “F.A.I.L. to Succeed” culture, success is the ultimate goal and, when employees fail at something, they are encouraged to stop and examine that failure. Only when they acknowledge the mistake to themselves and others, can they truly examine the underlying reasons for the failure and learn the critical lessons that will make their next attempt more successful.

In our presentation on failure, Dave and I make the point that failure is temporary in nature. Problems arise only when failure becomes permanent. And failure only becomes permanent if we do not learn from our mistakes and move on. And, when moving on, we don’t simply forget the failure or the lessons. Instead, we focus on how we can grow from the experience, constantly looking for ways to apply those lessons and asking ourselves how we can build on what we’ve learned.

While risk can certainly be scary for an individual, it is even more so for an organization. But as the leader of an organization, you cannot let the possibility of failure paralyze you and your team. If you take no risks, you’ll have no failure…..but you’ll also have no gain.

Is a “F.A.I.L. to Succeed” culture right for your business? If so, is it the type of culture that you have created in your organization? Do you encourage risk-taking and acknowledge the potential for failure. Do you assume that learning those lessons are all part of doing business? Do you teach your employees that failure can be the road to the greatest, most satisfying, success?

At ECI Learning Systems LLC we are dedicated to improving productivity and profitability by creating engaged organizations. Our unique combination of training and personalized coaching, combined with our expertise in assessments allow us to create a development plan tailored for your success.

Until next time….

Laurie Valaer
ECI Learning Systems, LLC

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