Friday, September 26, 2014

Lean Quote: Fail Again, Fail Better

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.

"Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.— Samuel Beckett

To err is completely human, so you should not be afraid of the mistakes you may make and of course, you should never hide them. Nobody likes to make mistakes. However, the simple reality of life is that at some point, all of us are going to be wrong. That’s just life. We are going to make mistakes.

Most often we learn through trial and error. We reserve the word success for the accomplishment of difficult things and there are few difficult things you get right on the first try. Hence while success does not ALWAYS start with failure, it would be fair to say it does most of the time. If you aren't failing, you're not trying, and if you aren't trying you aren't succeeding.

Treat every mistake as an opportunity to learn and grow. Don’t feel stupid or doomed forever just because you failed at something. You can always find other opportunities.
A colleague of mine always said, “Learn to fail quickly.” Essentially, if you are going to fail you need to learn to do it quickly in order to get the data (results) that you can use to gradually improve. The faster you get at learning from unforeseen circumstances and outcomes, the faster you can find a solution that truly adds value.

If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not improving. Henry Ford said, “Failure is merely an opportunity to begin again knowledgeably.” Failure can be an inevitable stepping-stone to great achievement.

Fear of failure is a genuinely scary thing for many people, and often the reason that individuals do not attempt the things they would like to accomplish. But the only true failure is failure to make the attempt. If you don't try, you gain nothing, and life is too short a thing to waste.

But to have success, management must create an environment where it is safe to fail. Failure is an expected part of the process of finding solutions. If workers feel that they have to “hit one out of the park” every time they come up with an improvement idea, they will be reluctant to provide their ideas. In a Lean environment, failure and success should be met with the same level of enthusiasm and support.

The ability to go through failures without losing enthusiasm starts from a passion, or some form of inner fire. If that’s missing, then every failure is going to be a huge blow able to stop you. If you have passion, than it’s going to be a huge bang able to make you stronger.

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1 comment:

  1. Hi Tim

    We shouldn't fear failure some failures have in fact proven to be better than what was actually being pursued in the first place. Take 3M the glue used in Post-It Notes was supposed to be a new super glue, the only problem it had was it wouldn't stay stuck to anything very well. The end result was this new glue actually had a much larger market than any super glue. Teflon was an experiment that at the time was a failure, yet it ended up being one of the greatest products ever invented and it found hundreds of uses. My personal favorite failure is the chocolate chip cookie, the first time they were made they were supposed to become chocolate cookies, what would have happened if that baker had never tried using semi-sweet chocolate, we would have all lost out on hundreds of chocolate chip enriched snacks.

    Failure has only two outcomes one is the opportunity to learn something new, and the second is finding new opportunities. Failure and what we learn from having tried will in the end help us to succeed, it will also often open us up to opportunities we previously did not see.