Leadership – Finding Value in Failure

A Rose by Any Other Name…

Failure – It’s a commonly accepted truism – We learn more from our failures than from our successes.  But how do we benefit from these lessons learned?  How can we tell that we learned anything at all?

And why are failures viewed as being bad???

We have a way of expressing learning lessons without applying them.  The anecdote goes as follows.

Not applying what you know is like…

  1. Going to school
  2. Doing the homework
  3. Knowing the lessons
  4. And then not showing up for the test!

No one would do that, right?  Well, going through the struggles of a failure and understanding what went wrong only to maintain a faulty course of action is just like the above anecdote.  The cure is to turn those catastrophes into catalysts.

Unfortunately many companies do just that. Sometimes the experiences of a developing company may be labeled as “catastrophic.”  Most times, however, the lessons learned will be well worth the loss of time, money, and sanity that occurred in the short-term.  That ROI on the catastrophe, however, can only be garnered if the lessons are applied and the catastrophes are turned into a catalyst for greater change.

Here is a step by step process to Learn, then apply the lessons.

Converting Catastrophes into Catalysts

  1. Research : Recreate the workflow; Compare Budget vs Actual; Document the Failure (be specific);
  2. Analysis : Determine if it was a process error or just an exception; Create Recommendation with Options; Scrutinize Recommendation and modify
  3. Execution : Communicate new workflow; Monitor new workflow to ensure habits are built for compliance; Correlate Actions with Outcomes

Things to remember include keeping workflows simple. Many companies add a step to their process to “eliminate the chance of this ever happening again”, however, this might cause unnecessary activity.

Push to simplify all things.