Monday, July 18, 2016

Why You Need to Fail to Have a Successful Career

Not many people get pay raises, promotions or great new jobs because they fail.

"Fail" is often a dirty word and can kill careers. Have the word "failure" follow you around for long, and you may even start to believe you are one.

But Baba Shiv, a professor of marketing at Stanford Graduate School of Business, explains that it's how you approach failure that makes the biggest difference. If you see failure as learning opportunity, or what he calls the "aha!" moments, then you can be on the road to your next innovation.

If, however, you fear making mistakes and become afraid of risk, then your chances of becoming innovative greatly diminish. "You don't get off-the-charts results," he says.

I've interviewed other experts on this subject, and they agree with Shiv: We are adventurous when we are young, but start to lose that spirit as we age. Did anyone in your school ever get an award for being the biggest failure? Did you Mom put your F-minus test on the refrigerator for everyone to admire?

No. Just like your boss didn't give you a bonus for failing.

Shiv says that one way to get bosses and employees to change their thinking -- and embrace the idea that failure can lead to better ideas -- is to engage them in "rapid prototyping."

This means that new ideas as quickly brainstormed, perhaps physical mock-ups are put together to help people quickly move from the abstract idea to the concrete. Such a practice "lets them visualize the outcome of their ideas," he says. "It gives the brain richer inputs."

Shiv says his business school is teaching such an approach. Let's hope more companies and bosses get on board with the idea that failure can be the start of something great.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Great insight Baba. Good to see you in print.