Double your rate of failure

“If you want to succeed, double your failure rate.” ~ Thomas J. Watson

What would happen if today you made a conscious choice to fail more?  To knowingly make more mistakes? To let yourself  be wrong more often? To deliberately risk potential embarrassment in front of your friends, family and colleagues?

I have spent most of my career driving new growth initiatives, much of this working within large companies. In most of these endeavors, to paraphrase Watson, failure was seen as the enemy of success. Countless hours and lots of money was spent making sure we would not screw up. Precious time was lost getting our new venture to market as we did more analysis, churned through management reviews, waited for the “perfect” piece of real estate and so on.

We bought into the illusion that all that work would guarantee the outcome we so desired. It didn’t and it doesn’t.

I am not suggesting being reckless or acting solely on impulse. Or that it is never worth doing analysis or conducting consumer research or sorting through scenarios when a lot of resources are about to be deployed.

But it is worth considering that there is a lot more that is out of your control than you believe.

It is worth accepting that there is great value in the knowledge gained from your mistakes.

And it is powerful to embrace the idea that you can Fail Better.



One thought on “Double your rate of failure

  1. That is one of my father’s favorite quotes….and he was quite successful in business. Looks like I should have posted my previous comments on this blog post. They are more in line with what you say about companies playing it safe.

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