Problem With Failure


Lisa's Tweet

Every now and then there comes a tweet, blog post or article about failure and learning. And there’s always something that is bothering me. Which is why I wrote a blog post long time ago. This time I will tackle it from a bit different angle.

Let me explain.

Failure & Root Cause

Aleksis's Tweet

When you will mention that from failure comes an opportunity to learn. What is it that you will learn? I would say that there’s often a hidden assumption related to recognizing how you need to change your behaviour. In other words, finding a root cause.

It’s just that I don’t believe there is THE root cause. There can be a cause. And many others besides that one that you have found. Which was something that Matti agreed also.

Matti's Tweet

Simon though provided interesting opinion related to root cause and its usefulness.

Simon's Tweet

Heuristic being (according Oxford dictionaries):

Enabling a person to discover or learn something for themselves

Which brings us back to learning. Let’s try to wrap this up.

What are you actually learning when you fail?

This is a good question to ask from yourself.

Before we go to that, is the world full of only failures and successes? We, humans, have a habit of thinking in binary. That there’s only two ways to label an observation. It’s either failure - or success. Is that the only way to look at it though?

As Jerry Weinberg said:

There’s no failure, only feedback.

You could add to it:

There’s no failure or success, only feedback.

Point being, you’re pretty confident of yourself if you’re able to say what’s a failure or success. And in the end - how useful is that labeling for you?

So perhaps the biggest learning in the end is that you labeled something like this as a failure? What does that tell you about yourself? Why is this important enough to be labeled as failure?

And that could be important.