Recognise failure and learn from it

Time and time again I see people trying to cover up mistakes and situations arising from failure. They have somehow decided that it’s a bad thing to have failed and that they will be severally punished for it. In fact, this may actually have been the case in the past and we (managers) are now living with the legacy of poor management practices from the past. This “old management” seemed to only exist to punish and make an example of people who failed. So no wonder people who worked under such management exhibit behaviours of covering up and never ever admitting failure. They do it as a matter of self-preservation and in many cases because that’s the way they believe they should represent themselves to management. Anything less would be considered un-professional in their minds. I believe this is absolutely fundamentally flawed for todays employee or manager.

The problems with this, is that this behaviour does not allow for the person to learn from their mistakes. This is actually an important part of how we learn. If you think back to your childhood, plenty of mistakes were made and in the process you develop. If you touched something hot, you burn’t yourself and you hopefully learnt (or at least after a few times) that touching something hot was not a good idea. Failure is an important part of the learning process and organisations need to be able to try, fail and try again in order to continue to innovate. This is how in most case new ways of doing things are discovered – through trial and error. So a culture where failure is punished is going to result in an organisation that cannot innovate. And if the organisation cannot innovate, I believe it will fail. It might be going strong now, but it will eventually and ultimately fail – but of course they probably won’t admit to their failure even after the administrators are brought in.

What needs to happen is that management needs to create an environment where people feel safe to try something new. If this “new” approach doesn’t work, then encourage and allow people and the team to learn from this failure. Then allow them to try again. Don’t punish those people who are actively trying to innovate, as it will be those people who will most likely come up with the new idea that your organisation needs in order to propel it forward.

Having said that, remember that it’s still important that some thinking is made around why the failure occurred, as if you don’t take the time and apply some intelligence around understanding it, you may end up repeating the same mistakes. The same goes for taking time to understand why something was successful. In my experience very little time is made available in understanding either the failure or success of a project before moving onto the next project. Valuable insights and learnings could be lost by not doing this.

Internet to hit 3 billion users in 2015

The financial times has an interesting article about the internet having 3 billion users by 2015. Even though we constantly talking about living in a connected and global world, I find it interesting that we still have less than 50% of of the world population connected to the Internet. Some say that the Internet was the biggest and most influential invention of the 20th century. If that’s the case, imagine what it would be like when the other 4 billion people start using it too. It’s all too easy when you belong to a society where the Internet is so seemingly ubiquitous, to forget that the majority of the planet are not users of the Internet.

Tower of London Poppies

Here are some photos I took a few weeks before the last poppy was planted on the 11th of Nov around the tower of London. When finished the display had 888,246 poppies – one poppy for every British fatality in the First World War. The display is already being dismantled, so I was glad to have seen it. More information can be found here http://poppies.hrp.org.uk/ 

Lest We Forget….

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Get ready for ‘Interstellar’ with these TED Talks

TED Blog

Since the first teaser in 2013, we’ve been in countdown mode for Interstellar, Christopher Nolan’s new outer-space epic that promises to blast us through space and time. It opened today in limited release; if you’re as excited as we are but can’t clear three hours until the weekend to go see the whole movie, here are a few TED Talks that relate to the plot points we could figure out from obsessively watching trailers.

The story begins on an earth devastated by drought and climate change. Dystopian, but unless we take action, we’re heading there in reality too. In this talk, Jonathan Foley makes a case for “terrafarming” — thinking of the planet’s food systems as one big connected whole.

Meanwhile Gavin Schmidt shows us how emergent global patterns are causing our climate to get less predictable (scary, but they make hypnotizing GIFs).

And … I don’t know…

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