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The business culture of failure: learning from mistakes to drive innovation

How many articles about the success of companies in different fields of activity or management have you read? Surely many. How many articles dedicated to business failure have you come across? We could affirm that with many fewer compared to the number of those who speak of success.

 

This is not the result of chance. It is because failure has long been perceived as something shameful, something to be hidden. Luckily, things are changing, and companies are realizing that In mistakes you can also find something very positive: the wisdom to continue moving towards goals.

 

In the case of people, we consider resilience as an essential soft skill. A capacity that leads us to overcome circumstances that are hard, even traumatic. When we are resilient, we are not only able to overcome adversity, but we take advantage of the experience to learn from it and then use that learning in the future.


In the case of companies, that ability to be resilient It is just as important as in people. Precisely for this reason, many are beginning to embrace what is known as the business culture of failure. What do you bet on? learn from mistakes and make the most of what has been learned, to continue innovating and achieving goals.

Table of Contents

The transformation of the perception of failure in business culture

No company wants to fail in its purposes, but history is full of examples of entities that have made mistakes at some point when making decisions. The curious thing is that many of them have managed to recover and, after falling into error, they have re-emerged stronger than ever.

Perhaps for this reason, the traditional aversion to failure that has always existed in the business world is beginning to disappear. From there is derived a new business culture in which mistakes are allowed (although we will always try to avoid them), and they are perceived as steps that help companies achieve success. But getting to this point has taken a lot.

The stigma of failure

Until not too long ago, organizations perceived errors as a sign of weakness or incompetence. Precisely for this reason, they tried to hide them at all costs. As a result, we had companies with a serious lack of transparency, and a such a cautious and conservative approach, which took them far away from the creative and innovative spirit that one must have to succeed in the market.

In reality, mistakes were never an obstacle, what became an obstacle to growth was the lack of organizational resilience. Because, instead of learning from failures, companies considered failure as something very serious and irreparable. belief that limited their ability to adapt and evolve.

Stigmatizing failure had a very negative impact on organizational culture. Since making a mistake was something very frowned upon and almost unforgivable, workers had no incentive to propose ideas or be more creative when solving problems.

The evolution towards the culture of organizational resilience

Over time, and thanks to the example of companies that demonstrated that there was nothing wrong with making mistakes, failure was no longer stigmatized. To understand first, how something perfectly normal in the future of a business, and then, as a source of opportunities to learn and improve.

By embracing the culture of failure, organizations have simultaneously embraced the innovation culture. Because now they know that an error is not the end of the project, but rather a sign that some changes must be made to continue moving along the path.

How to move from a business culture that stigmatizes failure to one that advocates organizational resilience?

A transition like this cannot be done overnight. It's something you have to dedicate time and resources because, in many cases, it is possible that a some resistance to change by those managers who are already used to working under the pressure that there is no room for error.

Although each company must approach the procedure in the way that best suits it, there are a series of steps that we could define as basic to reaching an organizational culture that sees failure as something positive.

Recognition of failure as an opportunity

Without a doubt, the first thing to achieve is put an end to the old conception of failure as something serious and insurmountable.

own company experience It will show you that mistakes are inevitable, but that very valuable lessons can be extracted from them that allow you to continue improving.

Fostering a growth mindset

An entity that fears failure and error is never in a position to face great challenges. Because he is always afraid of making mistakes. On the contrary, a growth mindset involves seeing challenges as an opportunity for development. Maybe we make mistakes when facing them, but, in any case, we are going to learn something useful that will serve us in the future.

To get to this point, we need them to be their own employees who show a more positive attitude towards setbacks. Something that is not possible if the company has not already begun to make changes in the way it perceives failure.

Open communication and transparency

There are many different reasons that can lead to error, and each failure will have consequences that will also differ from one another. If we want to be able to learn from this, we must provide information about what happened.

It is the company's responsibility to be as transparent as possible and establish open and clear communication when it comes to talking about failure. This is how it goes generating the idea that failure is acceptable, while we achieve that some learn from the mistakes of others and are able to avoid them.

Celebration of success and failure

Celebrating success is common in companies. In the case of failure, it is not about celebrating that an opportunity has been lost, but you do have to dedicate some time to recognize the worth and effort of all those who have taken on the challenge.

Although they have not reached the expected goal, they have dared to innovate and put their talent and creativity at the service of the company. This helps create a organizational culture that values continuous learning and, as a consequence, there will be more employees willing to take on new challenges when they arise in the future.

Development of resilience skills

For the organization to become more resilient, its employees must also be resilient. In some people this is a highly developed capacity, but others show more difficulties when managing the stress associated with the error.

A good way to overcome this obstacle is to train staff with programs that help them develop resilience. For example, with training on how to cope with stress, either how to deal effectively with adverse situations.

Setting Realistic Goals

If the company has been making adjustments like the ones we are seeing, at this point, its view of failure and its consequences will have changed significantly. Although error is a good starting point for learning, it also has a cost and, therefore, it is important to avoid it as much as possible.

And this is when business goals become important. Naps are not realistic, the organization will fail again and again in trying to achieve them. No matter how much you have developed an organizational culture based on resilience, you will eventually become frustrated, and that will end up taking its toll on your employees.

The key to minimizing errors is that the goals are clear and realistic. In this way, no matter what happens, and even if problems arise, there will always be time to get back on track and keep moving forward until you reach the set goal.

On the other hand, when we set clear and feasible goals for work teams, the pressure on them is greatly reduced. This allows them work more effectively and with more confidence, resulting in fewer errors.

Do active learning from mistakes

Organizational resilience does not mean overcoming failure and moving forward, it is something more complex.

What is required in these cases is a analysis of the situation to know what failed at the time and what consequences said failure has had. Because only in this way is one truly learning about how to act in certain situations and how not to do it.

The transition from a culture that abhors failure to one that sees it as an opportunity involves a profound change in the mentality of all employees and in the practices carried out within the company. In return, organizations become much more resilient and better prepared to face new challenges.

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