Posted in Bite size learning, coaching, Leadership, training

Failure can be exciting…


“Learning from mistakes and reversing fortunes for success” – Black Box Thinking – Matthew Syed

Failure can be exciting and liberating, you have to be supported by a culture that accepts mistakes and actively encourages the learning attached to them.

At my son’s school the Head is constantly saying the children need to understand how to fail, which I fully support however they need the framework and safety to do this.  Heather  Hanbury a former Head of Wimbledon High used to hold “Failure Week”.  Speakers were invited to talk about learning from mistakes and the girls were encouraged to look at failure differently and positively.

The book “Black Box Thinking” explains the culture of the airline industry where every mistake is investigated and seen as new knowledge.  The comparison to other industries and sectors is startling. The health sector where there is a great deal of hierarchy and fear attached to failure does not embrace the analytical approach to mistakes.

To begin to create a culture that embraces failure you can use the main themes of the book:-

  • Marginal gains – Use a systematic approach to identify small and often unnoticed weaknesses and then improve each of them.  Google tested the colours on their website to see if it increased click through – the result was an additional $200 million dollars per annum. Imagine an accumulation of gains…
  • Closed loops – never have the mindset of failure, don’t lose ability to face up to the fact you have made a mistake.  Often miscarriages of justice are because people will not believe they were wrong.
  • No blame no shame – fear of blame is a dangerous obstacle to success.  Create an environment where mistakes are accepted.  Take away social hierarchy so that everyone is comfortable in admitting misdemeanours.  Nurses are inhibited from correcting a surgeon due to the formality and structure of the health service.
  • Try and try again – fail a lot to win a lot.  James Dyson created 5,127 prototypes so therefore he failed 5,126 times.

Please do contact for a workshop around culture and teams working together.

Failure can be exciting and enriching…

black box thinking





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