The current issue of Harvard Business Review discusses failure. How to understand it, learn from it, and recover from it.
We all fail throughout our lives; if we don't, we aren't really reaching for anything. The issue includes personal stories of failure from many well-known business people. The most telling article, by Tinsley, Dillon, and Madsen, examines How to Avoid Catastrophe. They examine several well-known examples of people minimizing near-misses that could have served as warnings. For example, crew members on Deepwater Horizon called it "the well from hell" well before the explosion and spill last summer. They list seven strategies to help recognize and learn from near misses:
- Be on alert when time or cost pressures are high
- Watch for deviations from the norm
- Uncover the deviations' root causes
- Hold those involved accountable for near misses
- Envision worst-case scenarios
- Look for near misses masquerading as successes
- Reward individuals for exposing near misses
Failure is part of life. When some of us fail, an experiment gets messed up. When others fail, lives hang in the balance. We all have to acknowledge that nothing we do is without the risk of failure and learn to learn from it.