Failing by design.
ABSTRACT It's hardly news that business leaders work in increasingly uncertain environments, where failures are bound to be more common than successes. Yet if you ask executives how well, on a scale of one to 10, their organizations learn from failure, you'll often get a sheepish "Two-or maybe three" in response. Such organizations are missing a big opportunity: Failure may be inevitable but, if managed well, can be very useful. A certain amount of failure can help you keep your options open, find out what doesn't work, create the conditions to attract resources and attention, make room for new leaders, and develop intuition and skill. The key to reaping these benefits is to foster "intelligent failure" throughout your organization. McGrath describes several principles that can help you put intelligent failure to work. You should decide what success and failure would look like before you start a project. Document your initial assumptions, test and revise them as you go, and convert them into knowledge. Fail fast-the longer something takes, the less you'll learn-and fail cheaply, to contain your downside risk. Limit the number of uncertainties in new projects, and build a culture that tolerates, and sometimes even celebrates, failure. Finally, codify and share what you learn. These principles won't give you a means of avoiding all failures down the road-that's simply not realistic. They will help you use small losses to attain bigger wins over time.