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How the C-Suite Can Foster More Innovation: Return on Failure

Organizations with a culture of innovation recognize that failure is an important and valuable step in the process. They understand that with each failure, the organization moves one step closer to success. And there is much to gain relative to the cost of failure.

Any failure that teaches you something previously unknowable without first having tried and failed is a valuable lesson. And failure also creates new opportunities for insight and innovation.

Few of us really want to fail. Failures can be painful, and there can be serious repercussions, too. Though if you're trying to create something new, you're going to make mistakes. If you're not making mistakes, you're not trying hard enough. You're also not learning - or, at least, you're not learning enough. If you're not prepared to fail you're not likely to come up with anything innovative.

If you are seeking to foster more innovation, here is the big question for C-Suite executives: Does your organization punish failures, which encourages people to hide both the failure and the learning opportunities? Or does your organization encourage spotlighting failures as a way to learn and to prevent future repetition?

If you fail not because you're careless or lazy but because you're willing to experiment, venture off the well-worn path and try something challenging, then your failure is likely to generate a high return.

Innovation flourishes when people are given the space to fail.


For more than three decades, Bob Roitblat has helped clients develop a goal-focused mentality and the competitive skills they need to achieve long-term success. Bob is a TEDx and keynote speaker, author of several books, and is a regular contributor to several blogs.

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