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5 Ways to Fail More Intelligently

When reading about psychological safety and design thinking you can't help but read about failure. Failure is a cornerstone of any work (or life!) environment that embraces these concepts.


I'm currently designing an interactive digital-first workshop on failure, but I just couldn't wait to share some of the tips and strategies I've been uncovering to better learn from failures.


Check out below for some practical tips and exercises to fail more intelligently! Questions on any slides? Ask away!


Slide transcripts

  1. Five Strategies to Fail More Intelligently 1 25 Joshua Ehrenreich www.joshehr.com

  2. Failure is not a bug of learning, —Rachel Simmons Leadership Development @ Smith College’s Wurtele Center for Work and Life it’s the feature.

  3. 1/5 Decide on what failure and success look like before you launch

  4. Transparency is key

  5. 2/5 Reduce uncertainty ahead of time

  6. Step 1 Brainstorm Source: Assumptions and Questions—IBM Enterprise Design Thinking toolkit https://www.ibm.com/ design/thinking/page/toolkit/activity/assumptions- and-questions/

  7. Step 2 Map to grid Source: Assumptions and Questions—IBM Enterprise Design Thinking toolkit https://www.ibm.com/ design/thinking/page/toolkit/activity/assumptions- and-questions/

  8. Step 3 Ideate means to resolve high-risk, high uncertainty Source: Assumptions and Questions—IBM Enterprise Design Thinking toolkit https://www.ibm.com/ design/thinking/page/toolkit/activity/assumptions- and-questions/

  9. 3/5 Fail cheap, fail fast

  10. Is the pilot being tested under typical circumstances (rather than optimal conditions)? Source: Strategies for Learning from Failure—Amy Edmondson https://hbr.org/2011/04/strategies-for-learning-from-failure 6 question to see if your pilot is well designed

  11. Do the employees, customers, and resources represent the firm’s real operating environment? Source: Strategies for Learning from Failure—Amy Edmondson https://hbr.org/2011/04/strategies-for-learning-from-failure

  12. Is the goal of the pilot to learn as much as possible (rather than to demonstrate the value of the proposed offering)? Source: Strategies for Learning from Failure—Amy Edmondson https://hbr.org/2011/04/strategies-for-learning-from-failure 6 questions to see if your pilot is well designed

  13. Is the goal of learning well understood by all employees and managers? Source: Strategies for Learning from Failure—Amy Edmondson https://hbr.org/2011/04/strategies-for-learning-from-failure 6 questions to see if your pilot is well designed

  14. Is it clear that compensation and performance reviews are not based on a successful outcome for the pilot? Source: Strategies for Learning from Failure—Amy Edmondson https://hbr.org/2011/04/strategies-for-learning-from-failure 6 question to see if your pilot is well designed

  15. Were explicit changes made as a result of the pilot test? Source: Strategies for Learning from Failure—Amy Edmondson https://hbr.org/2011/04/strategies-for-learning-from-failure 6 questions to see if your pilot is well designed

  16. 4/5 Capture and share what you learn

  17. What You Gained What You Spent Return on Failure

  18. Project Review Sheet Source: Increase Your Return on Failure—Julian Birkinshaw and Martine Haas https://hbr.org/2016/05/increase-your-return-on-failure Make it easy and quick to examine projects

  19. 5/5Respond productively

  20. Express Appreciation

  21. Destigmatize Failing Express Appreciation

  22. Routine Complex Frontier Source: Strategies for Learning from Failure—Amy Edmondson https://hbr.org/2011/04/strategies-for-learning-from-failure Failure occurs on a spectrum

  23. Process Deviance Inattention Lack of Ability Routine Complex Frontier Source: Strategies for Learning from Failure—Amy Edmondson https://hbr.org/2011/04/strategies-for-learning-from-failure

  24. Is the pilot being tested under typical circumstances (rather than optimal conditions)? Source: Strategies for Learning from Failure—Amy Edmondson https://hbr.org/2011/04/strategies-for-learning-from-failure 6 questions to see if your pilot is well designede

  25. Process Deviance Inattention Lack of Ability Process Inadequacy Process Complexity Uncertainty Hypothesis Testing Exploratory Testing Challenge of Task Routine Complex Frontier Source: Strategies for Learning from Failure—Amy Edmondson https://hbr.org/2011/04/strategies-for-learning-from-failure

  26. Express Appreciation Destigmatize Failing Sanction Clear Violations

  27. So, if you want to learn more from failure Try utilizing these five strategies

  28. Decide on what failure and success look like before you launch Reduce uncertainty ahead of time Fail cheap, fail fast Capture and share what you learn Respond productively

  29. Now go mess something up, and learn something

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©2019 by Joshua Ehrenreich