Here’s the script from last week’s Connected Focus Video Cast. Due to the interest, we’re posting the words – and encourage you to put the questions below to work.
Let’s face it: There aren’t a lot of professionals who will raise their hand and declare, “Hey! I’m afraid of failure. So, I don’t aim too high.”
Yet, many organizations have an unhealthy relationship with failure – which reveals itself, ironically, through a commitment to only doing small things. You can see it when these companies develop new products, execute marketing campaigns or work towards their sales targets.
Despite the fact that innovation and continuous improvement processes are followed and timelines or milestones are met – the company still delivers to the market products that underwhelm customers and fail to bring differentiated value to a hyper-competitive landscape.
This “we’re succeeding – but not really” dynamic is largely caused by risk avoidance – a fear of aiming high – that has been ingrained into the DNA of the culture over time. Decision makers have been conditioned to believe that the downside of falling short on a personal level outweighs the upside of personally and collectively succeeding in doing big things.
Among other methods, well-intentioned employees can conceal their fear of aiming to do big things under the umbrella of scientific or analytical rigor. Decision making intended to enhance the value proposed instead dulls and diminishes outcomes.
In meeting after meeting questions are asked by those who work to limit their exposure to any outcome that puts their leadership brand at risk, causes them to lose power or requires their function to give up more resources or do more work.
Consequently, in no time at all, risks are retired and the organization settles for incremental improvements – seemingly a safer play, but not really: The company falls further behind the competition and vulnerable to those companies who have a healthier relationship with risking failure by aiming to do big things.
The next chance you get, invite other stakeholders along the value stream to join your team in answering these questions:
- Do we really want to do big things? (Why?)
- How do we collective define failure?
- Do our systems incentivize and reward targeting the achievement of big things – or sabotage such efforts?
- How are those who aim high – and fall short – perceived in our organization?
- How do we gain greater value from the outcomes generated after attempting to do big things and falling short?
When you redefine your relationship with failure – you redefine your relationship with success.