Fail Frequently, Miserably, Embrace a Learning and Growth Mindset

How can you destigmatize failure in the workplace? What does your organization do to embrace a learning and growth mindset? Does your workplace fail frequently? Have you ever received an award or party for failing? If not, you are missing out! Your organization may benefit from rolling out some creative awards, including the Failing Forward Prize, The Trial-and-Error Tribute, the Learn From It Award, the Certificates of Failure, The Resilience Recognition, and the Failing Smart Awards. Next, you can throw a party, celebrate failures, and ritualize a Fail Friday event. In this blog, learn 12 ways to Fail Forward and conduct failure analysis. 

The Role of Failure in the Workplace

Failure means learning from your mistakes and not being afraid to make them. It’s about leaders in an organization encouraging their employees to take risks and try new things, even if they might not always succeed. Instead of being “perfect,” it’s better to be honest and vulnerable and learn from mistakes. Failing can be challenging, but leaders can help by permitting them to experiment.  They can also lead by example and acknowledge that failure is a normal part of learning and growing. This creates an environment where everyone feels safe to take risks and learn from their experiences.

What are the 12 Ways to Fail Forward?

  1. Viewing mistakes as a good thing.
  2. Approaching with curiosity versus criticism.
  3. Admitting ignorance.
  4. Embracing failure versus stigmatizing failure.
  5. Managing errors effectively and productively.
  6. Framing the work as a learning problem.
  7. Sharing past mistakes
  8. Owning your contributions.
  9. Repairing ruptures or mistakes and rebuilding relationships.
  10. Learning forward to achieve excellence.
  11. Celebrating failures.
  12. Hand out failure awards.

What is a Useful Strategy When Failure Occurs?

When a mistake or failure occurs, a helpful strategy is conducting a  failure analysis of the problem or mistake, identifying preceding events that started the chain of events, describing what factors influenced the failure or mistake, describing in excruciating detail the chain of events that led up to the failure or mistake, what consequences occurred, what different solutions could have been possible, what preventive strategies can now be implemented, and what adjustments are do you need to implement moving forward. 

Adding Fun and Humor to the Workplace

Throw a Party! 

Sing and dance for failure, especially when organizations are open to fearless experimentation, discovery, learning, admitting wrong, and recognizing that everyone is fallible, “just like me.” Be bold, courageous, and brave by accepting and learning from errors. Fearless organizations benefit from adopting a scientific mindset, exploring, experimenting, taking risks, correcting courses, iterating, and celebrating failures and mistakes.

Repeated failed attempts create great ideas, so avoid covering things up, omitting mistakes, and instead embrace failures. Adopting a mindset of not losing but rethinking it positively as winning, excelling, innovating, and learning. Fail forward, normalize the occurrence, authorize, embrace, and celebrate it by designating an organization, “Failure Czar” who can award “Great Catch” certificates for failure.

TGIF & Fail Friday! 

Build a Fail Friday into your teams and celebrate the failures you run into as you are growing together. The idea is that growth and innovation come from failure and mistakes. The goal is to normalize failure as part of learning and developing, so sharing your failures will help others improve! Fearless organizations benefit from authorizing employees to screw up, make mistakes, fail miserably, and still be valued as excellent, wonderful human beings.

Questions & Reflections

  • What is your relationship to failure?
  • What are you doing to fail forward?
  • How does your organization respond to failure?
  • How does your leadership team respond to failure?
  • What practices does your organization do to fail forward?
  • How do you destigmatize failure in the workplace?
  • How can you celebrate mistakes and failures?
  • How can you implement failure awards?

Recommended Reading

Learn From Failures

Watch this Amy Edmondson Video

Building a Culture of Experimentation by Stefan Thomke

Meet Jodie, your Culture & Transformation Captain. With over twenty years helping people change, facilitating team discussions, building cultures, designing, implementing and teaching classes, your organization is in good hands.