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Industry / The importance of #TheFail

October 22, 2011

Our industry is so focused on success, that we rarely see how important it is to fail. Failure allows us to take a wider view on what is generating success, it allows us to identify the weaker links in the chain, and it creates an opportunity for us to learn from our mistakes.

In a large, global agency environment there are so many moving parts, and for years this  ecosystem has masked failure on the individual level, deep inside redundant “systems“. These large “systems” of redundancy provide cover for individual performance. The blame then gets attributed to the system itself, rather than the individual. This removes any direct action, or re-action to the failure.

The self cleaning oven was a great invention, and in someways large agencies have this function built in. The sheer mass of staff allows agencies to quickly call in support staff to step up as relief pitchers in the late innings of the game for the save. The problem here is that all that is remembered going forward, was that the work got done, and the only downside was that the project went over budget. At the end of the day, the weak links still hold on to elevated positions, they are not penalized, nor are they ever identified as a detriment to the agency. They have been saved by “systems“.

Failure should be embraced and used as a means of pruning staff rather than something that is swept under the agency’s rug.

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