Celebrate failure

A colleague of mine shared something online that got my brain working. Just earlier I pointed out a lesson to another coach that I learned from Diana Larsen regarding errors or failures.


Let’s dig into this.

First of all, since I worked through some Jerry Weinberg books recently, I am tempted to bring up a favorite quote of mine:

No matter how it looks like, everything is information.

(I could not find that immediately in my reminders, unfortunately. Maybe I misquoted him here.)

So, errors are – among other things – first of all also information. Errors point us to problems in our processes that we may want to fix.

From here, it gets complicated. Since we designed the processes in our organizations for some time, we found pieces of them useful at the same time. However, we may also have become attached to how the process works – either because we had a particular role in designing the process and don’t want to let go, or because it has served us well in the past at some point.

This puts us into some particular psychological problem. Do we want to let go of the past, and try something new? Or don’t we want to make that investment? Unfortunately, if we find ourselves attached to the processes, we may have some sentiment toward the processes, and start to argue from an emotional standpoint rather than a logical one.

Even though, there might be some people in the room trying to argue from a logical point of view, emotional and logical arguments can’t convince one about the point of the other.

Diana Larsen taught me a while ago that we should instead see errors, problems, and failures as learning opportunities. Rather than feeling depressed because we realized that we made a mistake, we should yell: “Hooray! I can learn something new!” This kind of positive mood also keeps our brains in a problem-solving state where we can actually imagine a way to fix the underlying problem.

So, compared to more traditional thinking, we celebrate our failures and mistakes in Agile in order to be able to learn from them and improve as soon as possible. At least in my experience, if this crucial part of the Agile mindset is missing, a dynamic of information hiding for fear of punishment comes up, exposing us to less openness and respect among each other.

So, celebrate your mistakes, as you can learn new things from them.

  • Print
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Google Bookmarks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *