Fail Forward’s learning loop offers insights into how we can learn from failures. Check out the link to the rest of this resource to learn more.

Topic: Other Type: Tools / Resources

Reframing Failure to Facilitate Change

Authors: Michelle Medley-Daniel

Earlier this summer I was able to attend a webinar hosted by the Society for Organizational Learning. The webinar explored ideas that an organization called Fail Forward developed. Fail Forward offers people and organizations new ways of looking at failures–as opportunities to enhance their practice rather than events to sweep under the rug. You can listen to a recorded version of the entire webinar here, or explore Fail Forward’s website where you’ll find several free resources and a helpful reading list.

Among the resources and tools for leveraging failures into valuable learning were three that I found particularly interesting:

  1. Failure Reports: In addition to being an excellent learning tool, presenters on the webinar shared that the practice of having an annual Failure Report has become an organizational culture driver for Engineers Without Borders (the group that innovated the Failure Report process). In fact, 9 percent of new hires to Engineers Without Borders were attracted to the organization by the Failure Report. Check out this guide to learn how your organization can use Failure Reports to institutionalize learning.
  2. Learning Loop: This handy diagram helps break down a path to learning and provides insights into when and why that learning link sometimes gets broken.
  3. Storyteller’s Guide: This tip sheet provides ideas for how storytellers can frame failure stories to maximize learning. It also offers tips for listeners to get the most out of learning from others’ fails.

Visit Fail Forward’s website for more tools and resources that will help your organization commit to learning. When facing complex challenges, like those that lead us to engage in fire adapted communities work, a culture of learning is one of our best tools!

4 thoughts on “Reframing Failure to Facilitate Change”

  1. Wesley M. Keller says:

    Another sorce of information along the same train of thought, a book by Weick and Sutcliffe “Managing the Unexpected” base on the principles of HROs.

  2. Brett says:

    Great concept. Thanks Michelle!

  3. Mary Huffman says:

    I love the reminder from Fail Forward that people learn through narrative. Telling the story of your failure makes for easy delivery, especially if you can see the humor in your own mistakes.

  4. Doc says:

    As I thought of the notions presented as a bit Pollyannaish, I was drawn back in time to the book, The Peter Principle by Laurence J Peter (this really shows my age) and also to the August, 2014 Forbes article by Rob Asghar, which revisits Peter’s book. Article is worth a read… http://www.forbes.com/sites/robasghar/2014/08/14/incompetence-rains-er-reigns-what-the-peter-principle-means-today/

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