For years you’ve been hearing all sorts of injunctions about what your organization should do. And while most of them make sense, they do not necessarily give any concrete ways to go about bringing the change they suggest. Let me address just a few of them in this series of short posts and translate them into actionable culture shifts. So here is the first one we’ve heard a lot about innovation:
“Make failure acceptable, fail fast, fail early, fail small”
Everyone now understands intellectually that “it’s ok to fail as long as you learn from it”. Expecting robustness, resisting failure, is not an option anymore.
But after decades of values and behaviors, such as the managerial accounting practice of DRIFT (Do it Right First Time), it is very difficult for teams to simply shift to a new mindset of “failure is ok”. Look at how the perfection-driven culture is imbedded into everything in your organisation: from your KPI to your quality processes, from your training schemes to your evaluation, compensation and rewards practices. The list is endless. So where can you start? Just claiming “let’s innovate”, “move fast and break things”, or any other formula that sounds like a startup, will not be enough, far from it and will even be counter productive in many cases.
To shift to the mindset of “failure is acceptable”, without making it a destination of course, learning and discovery are the destination, the organisation needs to create a favorable culture by:
- Developing emotional intelligence in teams so they can safely handle failure, set backs, pivots, teams reconfiguration and working with diverse teams, but also be inspired, feel passionate about opportunities, face the risks, and fear of the unknown without being frozen and engage others in their projects;
- Enabling all sorts of learning communities in order to accelerate access to novelty and the detection of weak signals, share experiences, spread knowledge and wisdom widely, extend the brand reach, nourish teams’ intuition;
- And diversifying projects KPI beyond the financial ones, because what is measured is valued. If you want a culture change, you have to align your KPI with the new values: if you value learning then measure what has been learnt, how wide it spreads in the organisation, how it was used in further projects etc.
Develop people’s EQ + learning communities + new KPIs = anti-fragility culture + more innovation potential