Failure is rewarded in the coin of wisdom

Matthew Carr, Kara Stevens and David Wiklie

Talking openly about what went wrong is not about recrimination, but about grasping the opportunity to improve

We all want to achieve our goals. That means we need to know how to make those aspirations come true and what will help us do the best we can to make a difference. The problem with focusing only on such affirmative evidence is that it doesn’t give us the full picture. The reality is we often learn more from failures than from our successes – and it’s only through learning that we can adapt and continue to improve. The challenge, as uncovered by a recent study supported by the Walton Family Foundation, The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and the Wildlife Conservation Society,[1] is that talking publicly about our failures with others turns out to be really hard. Unfortunately, it almost never happens in ways that promote shared learning within organisations.

The study identified four key barriers to talking about and learning from failure:

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