Give yourself and your team permission to fail – it may result in a breakthrough innovation that changes the direction of your organization.
Reward success, celebrate failure, and punish inaction.
A failure-free climate is an innovation-free zone. We instinctively know that failure is a necessary ingredient for success and innovation, yet many corporate cultures spend their time punishing failure so ruthlessly that risk taking and innovation are quickly strangled. Culturally, the smallest error by a minor celebrity or previously unknown business is cannon fodder for traditional and social media the moment the error is made, reinforcing the notion that failure is something to be avoided at all costs. Cultivating a team or business where failure is not only tolerated, but actively celebrated as a step in the road to success, doesn’t happen by accident.
The curse of inaction. The worst corporate cultures, and not coincidently those that punish failure the most severely, are plagued by inaction. Inaction is a course of action in itself. By deciding to avoid innovation, risk, and decision making, you have made a conscious choice that will later limit your options.
Resolve to fail at least once per quarter. It may sound silly, but giving yourself permission to fail in a work or personal setting once every few months can be extremely powerful. With permission to fail, you might attempt to solve that complex technical problem and, even if unsuccessful, learn something that can be applied to 50 similar problems. Perhaps you’ll take that dream vacation, despite the worries about getting the time off, getting the right dinner reservation, or going at the wrong time of year. If you lead a team, business unit, or company, giving yourself and your team permission to fail may result in a breakthrough innovation that changes the direction of your organization.