a state of inability to perform a normal function
a lack of success
So, I just finished reading a section from the new book Bold on Silicon Valley’s embrace of the mantra “Fail early, fail often, fail forward,” and then I picked up my advance copy of The Other “F” Word: How Smart Leaders, Teams, and Entrepreneurs Put Failure to Work by John Danner and Mark Coopersmith. They are not high on the mantra (they figure we’ve heard it enough), but they do have plenty to say about Failure, that other “F” word.
Let’s start here.
You will fail. Probably fairly often.
Your team, your company or organization will fail. Probably fairly often.
And, you will probably fail to learn from your failure(s). Probably fairly often. (This, by the way, may be the real killer!)
So, what wasted opportunity – to fail to learn from your failures.
From the book:
Failure is one resource you and your organization create virtually every day. It’s the result of the mistakes you and your colleagues make, the unfortunate results of good faith by hard-working teams, the superiority of your competition or adversaries, or even the bad luck events that upset your organizations’ best-laid plans.
…Failure is an everyday reality leaders and teams must address.
Now, if you have never failed at anything, large or small, you can probably skip this book. But, then again, probably not. Because, in spite of your superiority, your perfection, there’s a pretty good chance you have to work with others who are not quite as failure-proof as you. So, you need to understand others’ battles with failure in order to help them.
And, if you have ever failed (so far today; this week; this year; this decade), then this book will help you understand what happened, “respect” your failure, learn from it, and become just a little bit smarter about your failures.
I like it when authors include their own “this is what we are writing about; and here is our summary of the key elements” section. These authors do that. (They have taught this in class form at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business).
They include a pretty sharp “Seven-stage Failure Value Cycle Framework.” With masterful use of alliteration, they have seven stages all beginning with the letter “R.” Here are the first two:
#1 – Respect the power and likelihood of failure.
#2 – Rehearse for your most significant failure scenarios to develop better, faster reflexes. (great advice – R.M).
Since you have failed, and you will fail again, this is a book to buy and read to get ready for your next failure. You probably should get it and read it pretty quickly — you’ll probably have your next failure in about… 20 minutes, or 20 days, or so.