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Making the Most of Intelligent Failures

Most of us suffer from a pervasive anti-failure bias, in which things that go wrong instantly become undiscussable and the potential benefits of failure are lost. Here’s the problem: in fundamentally unpredictable environments, failure is unavoidable. Moreover, it is essential if your organization is to take the risks and engage in the innovations crucial to effective competition. Failures are critical to competitive advantages because they facilitate trying more; attract resources and attention; help you learn what doesn’t work; create leadership variety; and help you build skill and intuition. To gain these benefits, follow six principles: 1) Plan to convert assumptions to knowledge; 2) be quick about it; 3) contain the downside risk; 4) uncertainty is genuine, but not overwhelming; 5) intelligent failures are celebrated; and 6) Learning is codified and transferred.

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