Failing Fast Causes More Failure

One scary statistic is that 70% of change initiatives fail. An overwhelming proportion of new product launches fail. Most new businesses fail.

The sad fact is that failure is all around us.

Is this why so many organizations talk about a fear of failure being one of their major innovation stumbling blocks?

And, so what mantra do many innovation and growth gurus expound as a solution?

“We need to fail fast.”

“We need to fail forward.”

“We need to fail smart.”

So, the solution most innovation consultancies put forward to organizations already coping with the wide ranging effects of failure, is to tell their employees that they need to fail more.

Say what?

If you can’t tell already, I really hate the whole fail fast mantra. Can we kill it yet?

You don’t want to fail fast, you want to learn fast.

And so, if you switch to learning fast instead, the efforts of your employees should then become laser focused on identifying what you need to learn with each iteration, or each experiment.

And your focus should also then become all about how well you are instrumenting for the learning you are trying to achieve.

This is more consistent with failing forward, but WE ARE NOT FOCUSED ON FAILURE.

Focusing on failure, leads to failure. Failure becomes the expected outcome.

Instead, we are focused on learning fast, and we can learn equally well from success as we can from failure – if our learning instrumentation is good.

The way that you achieve success in change AND in innovation, is by working hard to move the potential causes of failure farther forward in the innovation or change project lifecycle so that you have an opportunity to either design the flaws or obstacles out, or communicate them out by forcing the tough conversations during your planning process (for change or innovation) — this comes before you even begin executing your plan.

You’ve got to surface the sources of resistance, the faulty assumptions, and the barriers to be overcome — early.

Then we build a plan focused not on quick wins, but on maintaining transparency and momentum throughout the change implementation.

You may have noticed that I use the terms innovation and change almost interchangeably (often in the same sentence). This is because innovation is all about change, and because many of the barriers to change inside organizations are the same barriers that innovators face.

As an answer to these challenges, I created the Change Planning Toolkit™ to help organizations beat the 70% change failure rate by providing a suite of tools that allow change leaders to make a more visual, collaborative approach to change efforts. At the center of the approach sits the Change Planning Canvas™, very visual, very collaborative ala Lean Startup to help you prototype and evolve your change approach before you ever begin. The toolkit comes with a QuickStart Guide and my latest book Charting Change was designed to ground people in the philosophies that will help them succeed with both little C change efforts (projects) and big C change efforts (digital transformations, mergers, acquisitions, INNOVATION, etc.).

So, stop bringing more failure into your organization, and instead bring the tools into your organization that will help you achieve more success!

SPECIAL UPDATE

The Experiment Canvas

To help everyone accelerate their learning and to achieve better success in their disruptive innovation efforts, I will be creating and licensing a Disruptive Innovation Toolkit™ to innovation consultants and practitioners around the world. I have been sharing early elements with my clients and I’m proud to be able to give you all a valuable taste of the kinds of tools that will be in this toolkit when it launches later this year by providing advance access to the first free download – The Experiment Canvas™. Designed to be used iteratively, and to quickly capture in a visual, collaborative way (in similar fashion the Change Planning Toolkit™).

Download The Experiment Canvas™ as a 11″x17″ scalable FREE PDF download
(a 35″x56″ poster size version is coming soon)

If you’re not clear on what the Change Planning Toolkit™ can do for you, check out the transcript from my Ask Me Anything (aka #AMA) session on the Change Planning Toolkit™.

A future #AMA on the Disruptive Innovation Toolkit™ is coming soon too!

p.s. I’d love to get your feedback on The Experiment Canvas™, which I’m making available to you as a free download from the upcoming Disruptive Innovation Toolkit™.

Click here to take the Free Innovation Audit

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Braden Kelley_LIBraden Kelley is a popular innovation speaker, builds sustainable innovation cultures, and tools for creating successful change. He is the author of the five-star book Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire and the creator of the revolutionary new Change Planning Toolkit™. Follow him on Twitter (@innovate) and Linkedin.

Braden Kelley

Braden Kelley is a Design Thinking, Innovation and Transformation Consultant, a popular innovation speaker and workshop leader, and helps companies plan organizational changes that are more human and less overwhelming. He is the author of Charting Change from Palgrave Macmillan and Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire from John Wiley & Sons. Braden has been advising companies since 1996, while living and working in England, Germany, and the United States. Braden earned his MBA from top-rated London Business School. Follow him on Twitter and Linkedin.

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