Our attitude towards failure is an evolving concept and it also varies a lot depending on the country, the culture, and the individual. It can be very frightening. In fact, one study found that more people are afraid of failure than are afraid of spiders, ghosts, and being in an empty house.
However, an investigation into failure shows that it is those among us that aren’t afraid to fail who will experience the most success. So if you’re crowdsourcing new ideas from your employees, how do you communicate to them that failure is not something that they should fear? Well, you start by changing your organization’s attitude to failure. Here are three tips that might help you change that attitude:
- Celebrate Failures. When you’re celebrating new ideas and projects that succeeded, share the stage with ideas that didn’t make it to the final round but showed a lot of promise. Even better, highlight the ideas that made it all the way through but then failed to perform. That gets people to think more creatively about the types of ideas that they can share and simultaneously shows them that failed ideas won’t be penalized.
- Highlight Lessons Learned. Activate a culture of learning by always looking for new ways to build institutional knowledge. When failures are rebranded as a resource, it helps everyone to feel comfortable contributing new and creative (even risky) ideas.
- Don’t De-Risk Everything. Good organizations are built to minimize risk, but if you eliminate risk, you also eliminate the possibility for innovation. Make a few big bets every once in awhile. You don’t have to bet the farm, but trying something new and out there will show others that it’s okay to try things that are new and out there, as well.
How does your organization respond to failure?