Let's Fail

matt KatesLet’s fail! Seriously, let’s all hold hands and agree to fail.

Well that just sounds preposterous doesn’t it? Actually, to not agree to fail is the worst thing any organization can do. If an organization isn’t willing to fail, how will it really drive amazing innovation or encourage people to push the envelope.

Notice that I said “agree to fail” and not “agree to risk failure”. Those are two very different propositions. When an organization says it’s willing to take risks, there is an underlying comment that it also expects those risks to payoff.

Even if it’s an innovation portfolio of programs that requires a certain level of return - that still forces people to hedge their bets – one failure could undermine the portfolio’s success metric. In order to really encourage innovation, an organization needs to “agree to fail”. Instead of having a portfolio with a certain level of success, organizations should have a certain percent of their budget dedicated to failure.

If an organization sets a target for failure, then that would truly encourage people to try those ideas that seemed too risky. If success is judged only on succeeding, then we have truly failed. So let’s fail together and enjoy the fruits of failure. I can’t guarantee the world will be a better place but it certainly will be a more innovative one.

Author: Matt Kates

Published On
Thursday, August 23, 2007