The Origin of Failure
October 23, 2015
GE’s New Attitude Towards Failure
August 12, 2016
Show all

Increase Your Return on Failure

For those of you who view the tenets of The Failure Institute as fringe ideas, please get a copy of the May issue of Harvard Business Review (HBR), whose cover article is “How to Really Learn from Failure”. At our most recent Summit, I promised that I would provide a synopsis of the article… so here goes.

The actual title of the article is “Increase Your Return on Failure”, by Julian Birkinshaw and Martine Haas. Julian Berkinshaw is a professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at London Business School and Martine Haas is an associate professor of management at the Wharton School (University of PA). They provide a rich (and familiar) business context for the deeply entrenched fear of failure that is pervasive in our business culture. Their prescription is also familiar and logically presented in detail. It includes “learning from every failure”, “share the lessons”, and “review your pattern of failure”. In my judgment, their most important contribution is a structured approach for assessing a project’s return on failure – not to mention coining the term “return on failure”. HBR has also provided a downloadable worksheet to capture the lessons of failed projects.

I confess to being an avid reader of HBR and this attention to a subject near and dear to my heart was a special treat. I recommend the article as the best four-page primer I know on this subject. Reprints can be purchased from HBR using reprint R1605G.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *