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The unexpected benefits of failure

Business Week just featured a cover story on how learning from failure can ultimately lead to success. Those who know us know that we’ve been on that theme for many years. The article is worth reading. It’s also worth giving some thought to these questions:

When you say it’s OK to fail, do you really mean it? I kind of like the way Jeff Immelt of GE puts it: “you are allowed to fail once – but don’t make the same mistake again.”

How do you distinguish between intelligent failures and the stupid ones? We are big proponents of discovery driven planning to help make your assumptions explicit and engage the organization. If you helped put the plan together, you can judge whether the outcome was based on flawed thinking or bad luck.Do you manage a portfolio effectively? All too often, we see individuals get identified with specific projects, which means that when the project goes down, so do they! instead, think of your innovation effort like your investment portfolio. If your portfolio was up 10% over expectations, you’d be pleased with your investment manager, even if some of the investments went down. Same concept here.

What mechanisms do you use consistently to benefit in a learning sense from failure? There are many to choose from!

More to come

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