Failure is a Good Thing?

I’ve been thinking a lot about leadership lately, and I’ll have quite an involved post on the subject in the next couple of days. (Honest, really…) But, related to that, here’s a quick thought about failure. You always hear “celebrate failure” and “you have to let people fail.” But there are different kinds of failure:

1) Glorious failures — People have reached beyond themselves and, even if they didn’t reach the goal, it was glorious trying to get there. (Root cause? Overreaching — not a bad thing.) 

2) Mediocre failures — People tried to incrementally increase or (even worse) maintain the status quo and subsequently failed at even that feeble attempt. (Root cause? Not trying for enough — a bad thing.)

3) Catastrophic failures — People took a short-sighted approach that led an organization, department, etc. down the path of destruction. (Root cause — change for all the wrong reasons — change for change's sake, change for hidden motives, miniscule change to make it look like something is happening, change with no real plan, grandiose change schemes with no rhyme or reason … you get the picture.)

What kind of failure are you planning for?

Posted on Oct 6, 2009 by Mike Jacka

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  1. I am thinking along the lines of a failure so monumentous and spectacular that you will have to come up with a fourth category!

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