So often when talking about innovation or change we hear someone say don’t be afraid to fail. That is harder than it sounds, I mean really; who wants to fail? Who wants to stand up in front of a group, no matter how big or how small and admit they were wrong. I know some people would admit they were wrong, but no one wants to be wrong.
Part of the problem is failure is seen as a waste of time, of money or other resources. But we can learn a lot from failure as Jonah Lehrer writes Accept Defeat: The Neuroscience of Screwing Up
Too often, we assume that a failed experiment is a wasted effort. But not all anomalies are useless. Here’s how to make the most of them
- Check Your Assumptions - Ask yourself why this result feels like a failure. What theory does it contradict? Maybe the hypothesis failed, not the experiment.
- Seek Out the Ignorant - Talk to people who are unfamiliar with your experiment. Explaining your work in simple terms may help you see it in a new light.
- Encourage Diversity - If everyone working on a problem speaks the same language, then everyone has the same set of assumptions.
- Beware of Failure-Blindness - It’s normal to filter out information that contradicts our preconceptions. The only way to avoid that bias is to be aware of it.
- Failing to Learn and Learning to Fail (Intelligently): How Great Organizations Put Failure to Work to Improve and Innovate
- Kent Bottles: Why Smart People Don’t Learn from Failures
- How You Learn More from Success Than Failure
- Try, Try Again, or Maybe Not
- Trying and Failing Enhances Learning, According to Research by Nate Kornell
- Getting It Wrong: Surprising Tips on How to Learn
- What Steve Wozniak Learned From Failure
- The Role of Failure in Learning