Last Updated Sep 15, 2010 6:46 PM EDT
In the September issue of Harvard Business Review, Godin opines that organizations have a tremendous fear of failure because "Failure creates urgency. Failure gets you fired. Failure cannot stand; it demands a response."
Change at this magnitude can be unpleasant, difficult and unpredictable. People could lose their status, titles and even their jobs. So organizations do all they can not to call failure what it is. We re-label it as a nonfailure. Maybe it's a "learning opportunity", or Version 1.2, or Bob's personal demons. Godin observes:
"The status quo is simply embraced and, incredibly, protected."If we were honest about failure, he says, here are some that we might find within our own orgs:
- "Failure of will. If your organization prematurely abandons important work because of internal resistance or a temporary delay in market adoption, you have failed."
- "Failure of priorities. If your management team chooses to focus on work that doesn't create value, that's like sending cash directly to your competitors, and you have failed."
- "Failure to quit. If your organization sticks with a mediocre idea, facility, or team too long because it lacks the guts to create something better, you have failed."
He makes a great point. Failure, like death, is traumatic and inevitable. But unlike death, we usually get a second chance after a major screw up. Organizations need to see failure for what it is: a major wake-up call that something has gone wrong. And then fix it.