So the hotshot young coder you hired a few months ago came up with a new idea for a report that she was convinced would be a big hit with users. She made her case and the bottom line numbers looked good. She spent weeks on the project. The report has been available for a while and you’ve marketed it properly. But, it’s clear that users aren’t interested, and that this effort cost the company money that won’t be recouped. Now the coder is back in your office with another idea. What should you do?
Anne Marie Kilgallon discusses the celebration of failure in her recent Inc. post. She points out just how often most entrepreneurs fail before they get things right. The average person goes through 3.8 failures and then experiences some kind of business success. Most students of business are familiar with the often-cited examples of failure – Steve Jobs and Henry Ford are among these people. What these folks had in common was their refusal to accept failure. They kept trying and tweaking their ideas until they succeeded – in these cases, beyond their wildest dreams.
As your coder presents her next idea to you, remember that there are few successes without failure. Ask your employee what she learned from the past failure and how she’ll approach the problem differently this time. If what she says makes sense, give her the green light.
If you want to encourage more entrepreneurship in the ranks, track the failures and eventual successes of the projects proposed by and developed by your team members. In formal meetings, on company social sites, and at other events, share the latest news of who is trying to implement or design something new for the organization. Praise the willingness of your team members to risk failing and reward them for trying.
If someone doesn’t take a big risk, there won’t be big rewards, either.