Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Two Rules of Failure

Things are changing faster and faster every day, and there’s no slowing in sight. The bottom line for any company is… you can either lead the change or be collateral damage as the change rolls over you.

An individual or company capable of responding effectively to rapidly changing market conditions will operate in an environment where mistakes and even failures happen. You can’t expect yourself or other people to be great without making mistakes. In fact, failure should be expected.
Have you heard it said, “If you’re not failing… you’re not trying hard enough!”
The key to success in the face of change is to identify failure as quickly as possible. Fast failure is acceptable; slow failure is not. Failing quickly means finding a successful alternative quickly, before the failure causes too much damage. In most cases you can find another approach, another process, another solution that will work.

This requires two standard rules of practice.
  1. The first is to accept mistakes and failure as part of the process. If you get upset every time you are given bad news, then bad news will not be delivered to you. It is critical that you understand why failure occurred. Leaders must be willing to discuss what went wrong and what could have been done better.
  2. The second is to encourage creative, outside-the-lines thinking, at all times. Some people believe that you are either born creative or not. However, new thinking habits can be nurtured and developed in yourself and others.
Give your team plenty of opportunities to think creatively, critically, and strategically. By encouraging diverse thinking and expecting failure you and your team will become thinkers, innovators, and leaders.

Encourage innovative thinking, by presenting questions or challenges with more than one acceptable or possible answer.

For example:
  • If someone just starting out with extremely limited resources wanted to do what we do, how would they enter the market? Where are we the weakest?
  • What annoys you most about each of the different generations in our organization (in our department)? Why?
  • What patterns or processes within our team are not working well, yet we seem to be holding onto them because “That’s the way we’ve always done it.”
  • If you were asked to participate in establishing a business casual dress code for the company, what would be your recommendations? (We want to allow our employees to work comfortably, yet still project a professional image for our customers, potential employees, and community visitors.)
  • If there's an exception to every rule, is there an exception to that rule?
Throw the question out there, and then be silent. Your temptation will be to fill the silence, but let your team members think and take ownership of the possibilities.

When there is failure, embrace it. Get creative. Creativity is experimenting, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.

More articles on thinking differently to achieve uncommon results:
 About the Author: 
Monica Cornetti
Founder and CEO, Sententia
A gamification speaker and designer, Monica Cornetti is rated as a #1 Gamification Guru in the World by UK-Based Leaderboarded. She is the author of the book Totally Awesome Training Activity Guide: Put Gamification to Work for You, What Were You Thinking, and Your Face Isn't Finished Until Your Lipstick is On, writes The Gamification Report blog, and hosts the weekly Gamification Talk Radio program.

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