I was reminded of this concept recently when talking to a former client who is having difficulty taking actions to improve business

A hierarchy of failure worth following

Not all failures are the same. Here are five kinds, from frequency = good all the way to please-don’t!

  • FAIL OFTEN: Ideas that challenge the status quo. Proposals. Brainstorms. Concepts that open doors.
  • FAIL FREQUENTLY: Prototypes. Spreadsheets. Sample ads and copy.
  • FAIL OCCASIONALLY: Working mockups. Playtesting sessions. Board meetings.
  • FAIL RARELY: Interactions with small groups of actual users and customers.
  • FAIL NEVER: Keeping promises to your constituents.

The thing is, in their rush to play it safe and then their urgency to salvage everything in the face of an emergency, most organizations do precisely the opposite. They throw their customers or their people under the bus (“we had no choice”) but rarely take the pro-active steps necessary to fail quietly, and often, in private, in advance, when there’s still time to make things better.

Better to have a difficult conversation now than a failed customer interaction later. http://sethgodin.typepad.com/

As often happens this blog got me thinking about failing.  Are we embarrassed or afraid to fail?  Are we afraid to speak what we know is right to prevent others from making mistakes in case we are wrong?  And finally, are we afraid to admit we may have failed?  Do our egos keep us from saying I screwed up and need help or do we quietly skulk away and hope nobody notices or worse yet do we blame others? Of equal importance is the fear of what happens if they accept our idea and want us to do something that shines the light on our perceived inadequacies. Oh no! They will know I am a sham!

These are questions I wrestle with and I need to remember nobody has a 1000 batting average.  We all miss but if we never step up and try we may not fail but we miss opportunities.  So I will try to fail often in trying new ideas and never break a promise to a client and continue to explore all opportunities and possibilities. What will you do?