Everyone makes mistakes sooner or later, and failure is part of business. But it’s how quickly businesses learn and recover from failure that may determine whether they eventually find success.
Success today often depends on being innovative and testing boundaries, but with that comes the risk of failure. While failure can certainly be an important part of the learning process, it also can bog down projects or processes.
But what if there was a roadmap that used best practices and research to show how to embrace failure better and faster? Would that be a key to competitive advantage?
A new book, “Fail Better,” by Anjali Sastry and Kara Penn aims to show organizations and leaders how to create the conditions, culture and habits to “systemically, ruthlessly, and quickly figure out what works.”
Penn says that the “fail better method” is “is the first repeatable approach that helps managers, team leaders, anyone really—design work to allow for the greatest level of experimentation, risk and learning.”
That is done, she explains, by focusing on three areas:
Penn adds that the fail better method isn’t easy and requires an investment of time, skill and management. But the results are worth it, she says.
“In the end, what’s harder? Learning too late that costly, avoidable mistakes were made or scaling failure at a level you can afford, and harnessing those insights to drive a better outcome all within the context of the work at hand,” she says. “And there are secondary benefits, too—all this commitment to learning, testing and improving rubs off in the form of professional development.”
Penn says the “fail better” method will work for any team leader, no matter the size or “constraints or culture” of an organization. Because the book provides insights into the research and conditions underpinning the method, it lets managers and organizations customize it for individual environments, she explains.
“Essentially, by our definition, if you are looking to solve a problem, create a novel product or service, organize resources towards a desired outcome or improve an existing approach, you’re engaged in a project— and that project can be a crucible for failing better,” she says.