They say we learn more from failure than from success.

It might be true – but only if we analyse our failures and learn from them.

It took thousands of failures for Thomas Edison to perfect the lightbulb.

He knew in his head that he could make a lightbulb and through trial and error he achieved his goal.

Failure is an inevitable part of innovation and it should be the launch pad for getting things right.  

Treat It As A Learning Experience 

To move forward we need to treat each failure as a learning experience. If you don’t you’ll probably make the same mistake next time round.

Learning from its mistakes is how a baby manages to walk. To make progress we also need to learn from our failures.

First of all, to achieve continuous improvement in a company, you can’t have a blame culture. If failure is unacceptable in your business – don’t bother reading any more of this article.

Everyone from the boss down should fess up and not be embarrassed when things go wrong but get colleagues to work together to put things right.

Three Key Questions

At Beattie Communications, our financial year is drawing to a close. So everyone in the leadership team got together to answer questions three questions: 

What worked?

What didn't?

What can we do differently next year?

There are only six people in our leadership team so we asked each of them to come to the meeting with a bullet point presentation.

The meeting allowed us to put strategies in place to ensure we don’t make the same mistakes again and improve the results we get in the new financial year.

In review meetings, writing down problems and solutions is important. It allows you to refer back and provides a blueprint for sorting things out. We all forget things, so having a written record is an invaluable tool.

Encourage Debate

Encourage discussion and debate. Empower everyone to speak – even the most timid people in your team. It’s often the quiet individual in the corner who will come up with the breakthrough observation or idea.

You’ll come up with the right answer if you keep batting solutions and ideas back and forward.

Carry out your postmortem as soon after an incident as possible. You’ll get more out of your review when the episode is fresh in everyone’s head. The longer you delay, the more you’ll forget.

Take as much time as necessary to get to the bottom of the problem and to put in place your plan for fixing it.

When the plan has been implemented, review it again so that you know it’s working.

At Beattie Communications, we have a philosophy we call Supreme Simplicity. In a nutshell, we take what’s complicated and make it simple.

As you would expect, we have a formula for innovation and fixing problems – Trial > Fail > Learn > Scale.  You can’t get simpler than that!

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