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Most startups – most businesses, in fact – fail. While the popular 90% theory has been demystifiedthe reality is not that far off: more than half of small businesses fail within the first five years, two-thirds within the first 10. While experience and funding can help reduce risk, they don’t immunize anyone’s ideas.
The biggest companies, including Google Google Plus, google glasses, Project Loon, Facebook credits, Amazon Fire Phone, Netflix’s Qwikster and Apple Nudon, have all made major mistakes. In some cases, these mistakes paved the way for amazing technologies that previous efforts sought to address too soon. We only pay less attention to their failures because these companies have learned to create “fail-safe” approaches – methods that have allowed them to take failures and use them to grow.
A “fail-safe” environment is not immune to failure. He encourages her. This is not done by sweeping disasters under the rug. Nor is it done by minimizing or minimizing failures with rationalizations. This is done by creating a system that allows your team to try, make mistakes, learn, iterate, and repeat this process until they succeed. Companies that have adopted a safer approach manage to create and perfect methods that allow them to innovate and improve. New doors to success open when organizations reconsider and refine how they try, fail, learn and repeat.
Related: Why Failure is Necessary to Succeed as an Entrepreneur
Many people don’t realize that the success they see from others around them is really just the tip of an iceberg full of failures. However, there are ways to create a fail-safe environment:
1. Increase transparency
Transparency and alignment within the organization are essential. Transparency is about more than ensuring data accessibility – I can’t count the number of times I assumed I had fully equipped my team for solid decision-making after installing a few dashboards. At best, transparency is about making data understandable. In my own company, we not only provide a dashboard for every data point in the organization, but we also schedule weekly tactical meetings and monthly startlogic syncs to make sure the whole team not only understands the Why behind specific objectives but also How? ‘Or’ What their daily tasks are intrinsic to the big picture. This provides them with the tools to take calculated risks when necessary and arms them with enough information to make the right decisions when things go wrong. Above all, it builds confidence in the face of failure.
Taking calculated risks is essential. We need to understand the importance of what we are trying to address in the larger context, as well as the implications of any delays. It changes our risk appetite and therefore can change our strategy to solve a specific problem. Starting a business provides an overview for everyone involved; As companies grow, they tend to break down tasks and silo work, resulting in structures where individuals can know their personal finish lines and can even understand global goals. of the company, but fail to connect the two.
If I’m tasked with building a bridge but don’t know what might be moving over it or under it, I won’t know the best way to pivot when I’m running into delays. If I don’t know who the bridge is meant to cross and what kind of weather it has to withstand, I won’t understand the implications if the bridge fails to meet those goals. I can fail in the project design or schedule, but I can’t choose where my organization can sustain this type of failure, because I don’t understand the big picture.
2. Provide incentives for autonomy and internalize spheres of control
A world of data won’t help me make the right choice if I believe the outcome is out of my hands. Many issues are truly out of your control, but believing the outcome can’t be changed makes you less effective at making decisions. When one has agency and control, one can begin to visualize the outcome one is seeking rather than feeling helpless. More importantly, you lessen your chances of turning outright failure into sudden strokes of genius, simply because you’ve been given the confidence to “try.”
There are two types of control externalization: practical and psychological. The first is the easiest to solve: Provide autonomy. Ensure that a team tasked with a specific goal controls all of the assets needed to achieve that goal. We respond by creating groups called “brands,” each made up of engineers, designers, product personnel, analysts and marketing professionals. Each operates as a mini-company with a specific goal set from above but with full autonomy to devise strategies to achieve that goal. Their sphere of control is greater and they are less likely to encounter problems caused by dependence on external resources.
Related: 10 Lessons About Failure Every Entrepreneur Should Know
3. Increase Accountability
The other type of externalization of control is a little more complex, as it is psychological in nature. You will always encounter external risks: geopolitical changes, competition, stomach bugs, etc. The greater the challenge, the harder it is to remain optimistic in the face of these epic dangers. It’s best to build processes that build accountability over time, so early failures are more likely to be minor ones. We wouldn’t put a learner driver in a muscle car for the first lesson – it makes more sense to start him in a reliable junker and give him increasing range as he demonstrates more discipline and skill.
4. Make failure socially acceptable
No one with skin in the game ever feels truly “safe” from failure, but a clear understanding of failure as a crucial element of success lessens the burn. In our company, everyone recognizes failure, which embeds a common thread in our work, even when it’s not going well.
When something goes wrong, scolding the person responsible might seem like the right move, but it probably won’t improve their performance. Those who are able to hold themselves accountable first will recognize the seriousness of their actions without being reprimanded. Those who deny guilt will reframe the reprimand as a deficit of your character instead of theirs. When people feel comfortable moving forward with an error, we have the luxury of taking the time to understand whatrather than who, went wrong. You can change who makes decisions, but you gain a lot more when you change how decisions are made.
Related: Why Entrepreneurs Should Aim to Fail – It’s True. They should actively seek it out.
Consider confidence in the larger purpose of failure and what that means for success. Instead of viewing it as a loss, see failure through the lens of ultimate victory. When you acknowledge failure instead of looking away from it, you begin to recognize it as an asset – failure almost always comes with an opportunity to improve and succeed.
Failure is not statistical. It’s binary. And you may be one failure away from huge success. You can’t predict where or when it will happen, but you can create an environment where failure after failure doesn’t take you farther away from the desired outcome – instead, it just brings you closer to the success you seek.