How CIOs Can Make Sure That They Don’t Fail at Failure

The new mantra of business in the past year or two has been to “embrace failure” in the pursuit of innovation. But too much of this sunny way of thinking can make people forget that failure is still bad. In a post for the Accidental Successful CIO, Dr. Jim Anderson discusses how to ensure that, when CIOs fail, they fail in a way that is actually healthy.

Fail without Being a Dope

One notion to dispel right away is that it is okay for people to work in an office where “failure is not an option.” Because failure is going to keep happening anyway, but with the caveat that it gets covered up as long as possible. This is counterproductive at best and severely threatening at worst. CIOs do indeed need to accept that failures will happen, and they need to be willing to admit it themselves when they have made mistakes. Honesty and transparency are the foundation of all improvements.

This is especially true while investigating how failure occurred. Many questions should be asked, but “Who is responsible for this disaster?” should not be one of them, at least not right away. People get reticent or, worse, too talkative when the boss is looking to place blame on somebody. Just gather the facts out of a sincere desire to learn instead.

Failure is a pill best swallowed in a “lab” environment, where people are actively working on various little projects with the understanding that they cannot anticipate the outcomes. Failures of this sort can actually be healthy, in that while they themselves are road blocks, they also become road signs toward the right direction in conjunction. Anderson goes on to say this:

So here’s an interesting question for you to ponder: when one of your IT teams fails, what will the people on the project remember about the failure? It turns out that behavioral economists have asked this very question and the answer that they have uncovered is that your team’s future expectations will be greatly influenced by their memories of how their failures ended.

As the CIO, what you want your IT department to do is to generate innovation and creativity that the company can use to grow.

He even suggests “celebrating” failures, if that will help teams retain the valuable lessons learned from them. So you can grab your party blower and view the original post here:

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