Innovating Through Failure

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So, did you have a chance to think about your philosophy or failure?

If not, check out our post from last week to get you started!

Let’s jump back in!

To innovate, you must learn to fail well

How are innovators treated on your team?

How is failure treated on your team?

If your thinking is big enough, no failure should be total. You always learn something from it – whether it’s how to not do something, or maybe it’s extracting one piece of the project that did work, that was ingenious, and that can be salvaged for the next idea.

Don’t stigmatize the team that failed. The next innovators will be watching to see how the first team was treated.

Don’t get us wrong, failure is not the objective. Failure should not be celebrated – innovation and daring should be though; and often, the two come hand-in-hand.

Think about how you encourage or discourage innovation within your team.

Are you celebrating daring-ness on your team? Or are you the runner or the steam engine?

Do you stop and think about how your actions impact those around you and how you can improve?

Or do you blaze ahead – blindly and without thought or care for who and what is tossed in your wake?

This week, make a conscious decision to create something – to risk innovation. Because even if you fail, you will do so while daring greatly.

And — you just might succeed!

To fail is not really to fail – you’re merely collecting data points.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt, 1910

 

First Block Quote from:  How Google Works. Schmidt, Eric and Jonathan Rosenberg. Grand Central Publishing, New York, New York. 2014.

Reinventing Failure

Reinventing Failure

In 1919, a young twenty-year-old was fired from one of his first animation jobs at the local newspaper. As rumor has it, his employer cited his “uncanny lack of imagination and creativity” as the cause for his termination. This wasn’t the last of his failures – a few years later he started his own animation company that he eventually drove to bankruptcy.

Out of these failed attempts to create something meaningful (and many more that we’re not listing), grew an idea and a dream. This same man later founded one of the greatest innovations in entertainment and hospitality that the world has ever known.

The Walt Disney Company.

Disney has been sharing Walt’s ideas, his creativity, and his passion with the hearts of people all over the world for the last 90 years.

How we fail is important.

What is your philosophy of failure? How do you innovate?

In our experience, most people do one of two things:

  1. The first person runs as fast as they can from every opportunity that could implode to escape from the feared collateral damage of failure. Their self-worth and value as a person and employee is so intricately intertwined in the success of what they do, that they are terrified to fail – so they never innovate. They never challenge.They never grow.
  2. The second type of person charges forward in most every situation. Like an out-of-control train, they never looking back and never realizing the impact of their actions, the people and things they harm, or asking questions about why this or that failed. They skip the step where they ask themselves “how and why did this happen?” or “what can I do differently next time?”

There is, however, a third type of person. A person who innovates – who has a strong philosophy of failure, and who daringly defies the status quo -all the while, learning, asking questions, being sensitive to their failures, but not letting the failures define their success. 

In 2009, Google launched Wave, a technological marvel that seamlessly integrated emails, messaging, social networking, and online collaboration for it’s users.

It was genius.

It was also a complete and total disaster.

By 2010, Google announced that it would be sunsetting the program, and discontinuing all future development.

By 2011, it was, for all intents and purpose, dead. The program never hit the mainstream, it never collected a critical mass of users, and it fizzled out almost as quickly as it was developed. The media lambasted the project, calling Wave an “overhyped bust and a tremendous failure.” And they were right – Wave was a flop.

However, the 60 person team at Google that worked on the project was praised internally. Each of them was highly sought-after for other high-profile, internal projects.

No one lost their jobs.

None of them achieved the creation of something that was successful, but each of them did push the boundaries of innovation. They created something new and different. They dared to think outside of the norm, and made something really special and unique.

Curious about what comes next? Us too!

This week take some time to think about your philosophy of failure and next week we’ll keep talking about how to reinvent your failure.

Handling Shame

Handling Shame

Last week, we talked through what shame can look / feel/ sound like in the workplace.

Our homework assignment was to identify where you’ve experienced shame and to see that shame is not just a word but something that all of us have experienced in our life.

So, take a deep breath – let’s jump back in!

Get a Handle On It

Shame crushes team member engagement. It’s the single-highest contributor to employee turnover. If it’s present in your workplace, and you don’t get a handle on it, then your organization will eat itself from the inside out.

The pathway out of shame is authentic and intentional vulnerability.

And, by vulnerability we mean openness – the willingness to share what you are really thinking and feeling.

Not just those thoughts or feelings that you think (or know) will be widely accepted, but also the ones that are a little edgier or that make you feel a little (or a lot) more open or exposed than you would really prefer to be.

Shame cannot live in vulnerability. They cancel each other out.

In an article for Fast Company, Brené Brown says:

When the culture of an organization mandates that it is more important to protect the reputation of a system and those in power than it is to protect the basic human dignity of individuals or communities, you can be certain that shame is systemic, money drives ethics, and accountability is dead.

Here are three ways to battle shame if you think it has a hold at your workplace:

  1. Think about it. Where is it impacting your workplace? Are there certain meetings, teams, or people that are encouraging this type of damaging behavior?
  2. Talk about it. Support others who have the courage to have authentic conversations about shame and acceptance in the workplace.
  3. Be patient. Though shame can be born in an instance, it’s not eradicated overnight. Be clear about your expectations regarding honest and vulnerable interactions. Model it. With the power of vulnerability, your culture can change from one of shame to one of thriving creativity, employee engagement, and innovation.

So, think about it and pick one person with whom you can choose to have an authentic conversation!

Want to Know More?

Check out Brené Brown’s book, Daring Greatly, a resourceful guide to wholeheartedness by honestly confronting your shame and invulnerability as a leader, teacher, parent, and human.

Let’s Talk About Shame

Let’s Talk About Shame

“Are you intentionally trying to destroy this company?”

You slump further into your chair, staring down at your shoes as Adam, your boss, glares across the conference table. Adam probes again: “Are you? Or are you just an idiot? How could you make such a stupid mistake?”

You open your mouth to respond, but nothing comes out. You can’t feel your fingers.

You can barely breathe.

The room was painfully silent.

The five other men and women gathered around the table nervously shifted in their seats, boring holes in their notepads, as the silence continued to thicken.

Adam stood up.“Get out of this room. I cannot have idiots on my team, and we can all agree here… together…that you are an idiot. You are the worst mistake I’ve made in the last 14 years of building this company.”

Shame. Everyone has it. No one likes to talk about it. It affects everything that we do.

Have you ever worked in an environment that’s controlled or dominated by fear?

If you’re not sure, consider some of these questions:

  • Am I consistently afraid of not doing a good enough job?
  • Am I worried that my Manager or colleague is going to ridicule me?
  • Am I nervous that I am going to be undermined in a call or meeting?
  • Am I concerned that I’ll be blamed?
  • Is the value I put on myself (my self-worth) tied to achievement, productivity, or compliance?

If you answered “yes” to any of these, you may be caught in a work environment that uses fear to control, manage, or ‘motivate’.

It’s incredibly damaging. Shame crushes creativity, innovation, courage, and learning.

In her book, Daring Greatly, research professor at the University of Houston, Brené Brown says this about the subject:

Shame is the fear of disconnection. We are psychologically, emotionally, cognitively, and spiritually hardwired for connection, love and belonging. Connection, along with love and belonging…is why we are here, and it is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives.

While the story above is a dramatic case, these types of interactions happen in offices, cubicles, and around water-coolers all across the world.

They might not look the exact same. They might be more subtle or subdued:

  • Highlighting top performers in the company…and bottom performers
  • Criticism in the presence of other co-workers
  • Belittling of new ideas, projects, or initiatives
  • Blame: an inability to take personal ownership for failure

We have all experienced shame in our lives, in one place or another. It could be at your current job, or past job, or with friends – and even family.

This week, take some time to sit with some of the questions that shine a light on shame, and consider were in your life you’ve experienced shame before.

We’ll dive in next week on how to get a handle on it!

Defining Shame

 

As a part of jumping into company culture – we want to take a step back and first define shame.

We’d encourage you to watch Brené Brown’s Ted Talk on Shame (above), as we will use this as a launching pad to talk about shame in the work place in the next few weeks!

Let us know your thoughts on Brené Brown’s research, and we look forward to digging deeper in the next few weeks!

Among the Best: Taking a Look at Company Culture

 

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Company Culture.

It’s such a prevalent topic of our conversations about the workplace today. We all talk / write / philosophize about that perfect company culture; the one we, our competitors, or our luminaries should have.

But – what is it, really?

It’s so much more than the passion or vision statement on the wall. It’s comprised by the people who enter our office doors, and the decisions that we make every day. It’s our value-system, and is not to be underestimated. It’s how the world perceives us, more likely why, our company does business.

Company culture is what we stand for.

As a growing population of millennials enter the workforce, a company’s culture is highly scrutinized by these prospective employees. As cited in Fast Company’s article, What Millennial Employees Really Want, Deloitte’s 2015 Millennial survey found that 64% of Millennials find that their personal values have the greatest influence on their decision making.

Need more data? They also found that those who share an organization’s values, are more satisfied with their organization’s sense of purpose, and are more likely to stick around in an organization. Out of all of those surveyed, 2 out of every 3 millennials planned to leave their current employer by 2020.

These figures shouldn’t be very surprising. What they show is that company leaders need to carefully examine the culture cultivated within their organizations in order to attract the best talent and then retain them over the longterm.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be looking at a few different aspects and problems often found in organizations today — some positive and some that are rarely discussed. The application of these topics can be applied to large global organizations, or to individual teams within companies.

It only takes one leader, positively influencing those around them, to start a cultural shift from one “norm” to the next.

 

1 https://www.fastcompany.com/3046989/what-millennial-employees-really-want
https://www2.deloitte.com/global/en/pages/about-deloitte/articles/millennialsurvey.html

Continuing You in 2017

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So, do you have your 3 words you want to use to describe yourself this year?

If you’re curious about what we’re talking about, check out last week’s post here.

What we know is that having a goal (these three words) is awesome – and to actually make things happen, we need some actions we can commit to.

Ready to start?

Step 1: Look at your calendar and pick a time each month (for an hour) that you can block to take the time to reflect on YOU

  • Strive for consistency, such as the last Friday or the first day of each month
  • Send yourself a re-occurring invite for that time each month through December

Step 2: Take each of your three words and ask yourself, what is one thing I can do between now and the next reflection time to start to see progress?

Step 3: WRITE IT DOWN. Put it somewhere you’ll see so it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle of life!

Need some places to start?

  • Maybe you want to hit new goals this year …
    • Define one of those and talk to your Manager about it in your next 1×1
  • Or you want to finish a 10k …
    • Decide on the month you want to race and choose which race you want to do (AND maybe even register for it!)
  • Or maybe you want to start an herb garden …
    • Take some time to choose a couple of herbs you want to start with

Then, when you have your blocked time next month, ask yourself some questions about these words. For example:

  • How am I seeing change in these areas?
  • What more can I do?
  • Who do I need to talk to in order to make that happen?
  • What is the next step or thing I can do before next month?

Excited for YOU in 2017?

Us too!

Be sure to share your words with us. We’d love to know!