Keynote: “The Other F Word”
This is a TED-style 25 minute talk on my book The Other F Word: How Smart Leaders, Teams, and Entrepreneurs Put Failure to Work (co-authored with John Danner) about how to create a more productive relationship with failure to drive innovation and growth for individuals as well as companies large and small. This keynote address was recorded in Copenhagen in November 2019, at the Innovation Roundtable Global Summit, which is represented as the largest annual gathering of corporate innovation executives globally.
Key takeways include:
- In the drive for ongoing innovation and growth, organizations and their leaders need to continually try new things (or, as I refer to them, run business experiments); and when you do this some of these experiments work and some don’t. So we need to acknowledge that some failures are expected outcomes or byproducts of this experimentation. What is essential is that these failures provide avenues to new insights, and also that they are not fatal.
- Organizations should recognize that failures are therefor NOT wasted effort. Instead, they can become pathway to long-term success by leveraging the insights. And they also bring teams together by creating trust in one another, when failures are handled well.
- To leverage failure to drive innovation, organizations should put in place clear steps to prepare for, deal with and learn from failure. This is instrumental in achieving a higher number of experiments and, importantly, successful innovations. I describe this framework and process in the seven-stage Failure Value Cycle.
- Organizations should frame company language around failure to emphasize experimentation, where trial and error are expected parts of the process, so that learnings can be extracted without stigma standing in the way.
Here is a brief downloadable summary of my comments: