There is no failure, there is only learning.

worst parent failsYou’re never really sure how your new project will turn out, unless you don’t try.  Not trying is the only way to guarantee certainty – certainty that nothing good will come of it.

There’s been a lot of talk about creating a culture where failure is accepted.  But, failure will never be accepted, and nor should it be.  Even the failing forward flavor won’t be tolerated.  There’s a skunk-like stink to the word that cannot be cleansed. Failure, as a word, should be struck from the vernacular.

If you have a good plan and you execute it well, there can be no failure.  The plan can deliver unanticipated results, but that’s not failure, that’s called learning.  If the team runs the same experiment three times in a row, that, too, is not failure.  That’s “not learning”.  The not learning is a result of something, and that something should be pursued until you learn its name and address.  And once named, made to go away.

When the proposed plan is reviewed and improved before it’s carried out, that’s not failure.  That’s good process that creates good learning.  If the plan is not reviewed, executed well and generates results less than anticipated, it’s not failure.  You learned your process needs to change. Now it’s time to improve it.

When a good plan is executed poorly, there is no failure. You learned that one of your teams executed in a way that was different than your expectations.  It’s time to learn why it went down as it did and why your expectations were the way they were.  Learning on all fronts, failing on none.

Nothing good can come of using the f word, so don’t use it.  Use “learn” instead.  Don’t embrace failure, embrace learning. Don’t fail early and often, learn early and often. Don’t fail forward (whatever that is), just learn.

With failure there is fear of repercussion and a puckering on all fronts.  With learning there is openness and opportunity.  You choose the words, so choose wisely.

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One Response to “There is no failure, there is only learning.”

Mike Shipulski Mike Shipulski
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