Failure is not an option fallacy

Many managers use the term “failure is not an option”. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard came from Mark Yates who stated: “people who never fail, rarely do anything”.

At first, I thought it was just a pun, a throwaway comment. But it’s true failure is normal, it’s how our species has evolved by trying one route failing and picking the better one – in essence, mico-failures create macro success. If a species can grow then so can anything else, be it a digital project, an engineering solution or a company.

One of my favourite Meme’s on Instagram is “I never fail: I win or I learn” and this is very much part of the project management ethos. In reality, you only fail, if you fail to learn from past lessons. It is why a lessons log and a correctly documented post project review is essential for all products.

In conclusion, leaders take note, failure to fail is what leads to products, processes and businesses plateauing. When your staff are too scared to try something new, or you make the same mistakes time and time again the adage of “if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got” will come true.

Put another way your competitors will be taking the risks, learning and developing something which is better, faster and more profitable than you.

A much better approach would be “Be bold. Take risks. Always learn.”

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