10 Ways to Reject Bad Failure and Embrace Good

Some types of failure should be tolerated, even welcomed; other types should be rejected completely.

Failure is good when you’re better for it and others don’t pay too high a price.

broken glass-001

Fruitless failure:

  1. Goes unnoticed and remains uncorrected. Wise leaders bring up awkward topics.
  2. Is ignored or covered up.
  3. Doesn’t result in learning or improvement.
  4. Produces long-term negative effects.
  5. Destroys relationships.
  6. Betrays trust and damages people. Lessons learned at the expense of others are too expensive.
  7. Demolishes hope.

Adapted from contributions of Facebook fans.

Good failure – bad failure:

Failure in the course of trying is useful. Failure as a result of not trying is unacceptable.

If you’re going to roll over and play dead, go home.

Some fail because they try too much, others from trying too little. Some don’t start enough. Others start too much.

Failure – while trying – calls for skillful leadership.

10 responses to good failure:

  1. Clarify roles. Did someone step into an inappropriate role?
  2. Give guidance.
  3. Provide support.
  4. Arrange training.
  5. Refine focus. Are they spread too thin?
  6. Establish effective time management.
  7. Learn the delegation question. Who does what by when?
  8. Focus more on completing than starting. Starting is easy; finishing hard. How and when will you be done? Set a deadline.
  9. Ask what are we learning and what will you do differently next time.
  10. Reward effort and honor hard work. It sure beats the heck out of not trying at all.

The worst failures are the result of not trying.

Reject failure that results from not trying. Deal with it quickly, directly, and firmly. Establish accountability and/or consequences.

Failure makes us interesting and useful when we learn and grow.

What failures should be rejected? Accepted?

How can we create environments where organizations get the most from good failure?