In the Lean community, we talk about the need to encourage improvement and experimentation by not punishing failures.
Sometimes when you try, you’re going to “fail” or not get the outcome you were expecting, predicting, or hoping for. This is true if you’re practicing Kaizen or otherwise going through a rigorous PDSA cycle. A “failure” can be reframed as a learning opportunity… as long as we’re learning from those attempts and incorporating that new knowledge into future improvements opportunities.
The Lean Startup folks talk about celebrating failure and the need to “fail fast” so you can move on to a better idea or new business to pursue. But, some think that “failure culture” is a bad thing. Marc Andreesson warns or complains about a failure fetish.
In an organization, whether it’s a factory or a hospital, if you punish failures, you’re going to make people very risk averse, which then limits the amount of improvement that you’ll see. A leader’s role is to encourage people to try more improvements, but we shouldn’t give people carte blanche to do reckless or irresponsible things.
One thing that’s probably pretty well agreed upon, however, is that we’re not supposed to reward or celebrate the failure to try… as we see Wally trying to get away with.
Does your organization do anything to celebrate failures? Or, at least better tolerate them? Does this sometimes go too far where we excuse sloppy experiments?
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