Somehow, we know the value of failure and making mistakes. You know, it helps to grow, to learn and to innovate.

Never fail to fail.

So, why aren’t we doing it?
Learn (how) to fail.

Why failure matters

Most people know that failure matters. People like Richard Brandson, Tom Peters, Malcolm Gladwell, Stephen Covey; they all talk about this. Why? Because it helps you to grow, to learn and to innovate.

First of all, taking risks, experimenting and learning from mistakes are important aspects of innovation. Major innovations come from trying new things – in entirely new directions. The risk of failure is part of this. As Woody Allen says: “If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative.”  (In a study on the durability of companies which were successful for over 100 years, one of the most important findings for success was ‘the tolerance to experiment in the margin’*).

Second, experimenting and mistakes are important to grow and learn. Thomas Edison did over 9,000 experiments before he came up with a successful version of the light bulb. Failure to succeed.

Thereby, mistakes could lead to unforeseen opportunities, could uncover blind spots in your understanding and ignite your imagination. It even can lead to serendipitous innovations (finding something unexpected and usable while you were looking for something totally different.) Take a look as this 5 examples of failure that resulted in innovation.

These are some reasons why it matters.
(If you are not convinced yet, please take a look at our magazine at the end of this post.)

The key is: if you dare to fail, make mistakes and experiment, magical things could happen. It helps you to grow, to learn and carry out innovation.

So, why aren’t we doing it?

Why aren’t we doing it?

We maybe know about the value of failure, but it’s not easy to take this stand and just do it. It requires a different mindset than we are used to.

We have a fear of failure. Nothing should go wrong, we don’t want to make any mistakes and we don’t like risks. We have a tendency to want to control. And this urge to control is coming from our need to reduce uncertainty (here’s our blog about this subject: The Certainty Trap). So, in most ‘traditional’ organizations, we stigmatize mistakes and we see risk as something that is detrimental. This mindset of fear, embarrassment and intolerance of failure inhibits our learning opportunities and hinders innovation. If the risk is too high, we look for an alternative that is less risky, or we decide to stop the whole thing. This mindset of control, avoiding mistakes and risks is an important reason why we are not “doing it”. We are not used to act this way.

Learn how to fail

Source: Mark Brodinsky

Source: Mark Brodinsky

Because of this ‘control’ mindset, it’s not easy to embrace failure.
We have to learn to learn from failure.

That means enriching the way we think and act.
Learn to deal with fear, with uncertainty and unpredictability.
Learn to make useful mistakes, by learning from them (otherwise you end up with “bad” failure, which is one that’s repeated)
And learn to be brave.

We have a special zone in Plan B. It’s called B Experimental.
This is all about failing as soon, fast and cheap as possible.

Because failure is strength.
It helps you to grow, to learn and to innovate.
You just have to learn how to fail as soon, fast and cheap as possible.

Want to know more?

We’ve made a Flipboard magazines for you!
All about Failure and making mistakes.
View my Flipboard Magazine.

* Source: Otto Scharmer, MIT, Theory U.

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