Learning (vs. failure) Culture

No literature about change or transformation or survival in the VUCA world spares advice on establishing a failure culture. Yet few companies actually deliberately go there.

So, why leaders apparently don’t like the idea of a failure culture? Because they are smart: in their experience failures usually are way too expensive (because they are discovered too late). And because they are human: let’s get serious – who likes to fail?

Well, all humans like to learn, so why don’t we call what we need in companies learning culture instead of failure culture? The joke „FAIL is actually not a word but an acronym: First Attempt In Learning“ plays on this.

A mistake is only perceived as a failure if it comes unexpected. If we not only accept but expect that mistakes will happen along the way of innovation and change we program ourselves to learning.

One of the best ways to derive learning when something went wrong is the method „5x Why“. This clip 5x Why nicely explains how our natural human emotions get in the way when trying to help people getting in the learning zone during a „5x Why“ and how to overcome this: avoiding shame and not falling into the trap of hindsight bias („I should have known this before; I will never do this (mistake) again“).

What is your favorite way of taking organizations on the learning road?