Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Failure Learning

"In Silicon Valley, failure is a rite of passage....If you're not failing, you're not considered to be innovative enough."

Quote from Wayan Vota of the World Bank, in Sarika Bansal, "The Power of Failure," The New York Times, December 2, 2012.

This short piece promotes failure recognition in the nonprofit sector as a key component of learning and innovation. In particular, it highlights a great tool the World Bank has developed called FAILfare, a process for openly discussing investments that didn't work. It's like the mistakes potlucks we suggest along with other tools on Of course, these can't be one-time events, and organizations must do a lot of things to make failure talk a normal habit of everyday organizational life.

Back to Silicon Valley. Is this rite of passage metaphor relevant for the nonprofit sector? I was talking to someone the other day who bemoaned the fact that this same breed of venture investors  from Silicon Valley sometimes become narrowly focused on single measures of success, and think pouring in lots of money is the answer to social problems. That's frequently a mistake in in itself.

We in the nonprofit sector should become much better at recognizing more  quickly tactical mistakes and taking corrective action or exiting. The challenge is with constructive mistakes, when we are pushing the envelope on what works to solve deep challenges. Failing fast may not be the right approach. We need to stick with promising ideas long enough to see if they are successes or failure. That's a different kind of courage.


Coo Mamun said...

Nice informative posting ! Thank you for sharing this !

Medha said...

Through just a word I want to say this is nice and great blog posting. thanks