“Embrace Failure”

“Be Steadfast”

“Failure is a byproduct of Success”

You know all the clichés… but do you really gain a return from your failures?

If you follow Lab Tactical online, it’s no secret that we have a distinct fondness for Harvard Business Review. Our leadership and growth conversations are often inspired from the stories contained within its pages. The May 2016 issue focuses on failure and how one learns from it as a professional to lead their teams after challenges exist.

We took the points outlined by Julian Birkinshaw and Martine Haas of HBR.org and narrowed the focus to 3 relevant scenarios in our industry:

Step 1: Learn from Every Failure

Did you try something new recently that didn’t hit the exact mark you were shooting for? Maybe it was an uncoordinated launch into retail sales? Or mediocre outcomes auto-dialing for CPAP supplies? Both of these are examples in which lackluster results often end up feeling like they don’t match up with efforts (and expenses!) you and your team put into them. It’s frustrating, right?

Learning from these kind of experiences requires you to be objective and empirical. Reading blog posts like this one can’t make you objective – it’s your self-awareness and consistent practice will establish that skill! A worksheet like this one, however, can certainly help you develop an observational approach to evaluating the failures in your business the same way every time.

Step 2: Share the Lessons

Marking success and failure with tact is a sure sign of a strong leader. An even stronger individual will be humble enough to share lessons back with the team. There are two prime opportunities to share failures with your team:

  1. When ‘enough is enough’ and the effort is labeled a failure.
    It’s important to lick your wounds and collect information in a timely fashion. When you’re ready, report back in a thoughtful and confident way.
  2. At the outset of a new effort.
    Use candor and objectivity to talk about similar situations where the organization has failed in the past. This allows for analysis and can even promote healthy conflict prior to starting your new initiative. Try working this scenario through with your management team about a failed product expansion and ask them to share with you the lessons they’ve learned after failing.

Step 3: Review Your Pattern of Failure

This is by far the toughest. It can be very hard to review your own patterns of failure. A bird’s eye view will almost always be required to review your own patterns and a second opinion is nearly as tantamount. Here are a few solid suggestions:

The most important takeaway here is understanding that it’s essential to somehow step back from patterns to review them. For example, think about National Competitive Bidding and the disaster it’s become for HME providers and patients alike… What patterns do you see in your state and in Washington that could have contributed to this?

Once you figure out how to step back, action is the only logical step forward. This step in the process is where “analysis paralysis” happens most often — and doing nothing is the ONLY guarantee of failure.


Need help decided which step to take next? We're here to listen. Let's talk...

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