How does your team learn from experimentation?

Management 3.0 Module: Success and Failure

It’s not about the first-mover advantage, it’s about the fast-learner advantage.

Canon Illustration
  • Create a safe-to-fail environment.
  • Don’t change things, run experiments.
  • Run more experiments, faster, and cheaper.

We love to tout the startup culture of fail fast, pivot, try again and yes, experimentation is a good thing. But maybe we are taking the celebration of failure too far? On the other hand, if we only follow best practices, we’ll never develop news ones, they’ll become old and we’ll starve innovation.

So what we need is a balance, a world where we celebrate learning!  However, we admit that it isn’t easy. You need to work to build a safe-to-fail environment where everyone feels safe to experiment, share opinions and best practices.

Celebrating isn’t just from the top down. We suggest you have a bell–or a gong or a cannon–in the office where someone can ring to celebrate anything at all. It’s about peer-to-peer recognition and about expressing pride in ourselves.

Running Brain

Try a celebration grid to organize the talk around success (best practices), mistakes (bad practices, not to be repeated), and learning! Often used in retrospectives, a Celebration Grid is a simple way to visualize and evaluate experiments because when we test something when we don’t know if it’ll be successful or not.

We don’t learn anything if we keep repeating bad practices or good ones. We do learn when best practices fail or when mistakes are successful, but these are both unusual circumstances. We can’t simply “celebrate failure” because that can include repeating mistakes. When there’s a 50-50 chance of failure or success, this is an optimal time to learn. A Celebration Grid can help you open the discussion for more experimentation and learning and for discovering new best practices.

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What you can expect in this module

A preview of the Success and Failure module’s slides:

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