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Failing May be Fundamental To Success, According To Columbia Business School

Columbia University Butler Library

Few companies or organizations are looking to fail when they plot a new strategy.  However, turning a blind eye to the possibility that a strategy may fail can have disastrous consequences. According to Rita McGrath, a professor at Columbia Business School and leading expert on strategy and disruption, there is an “intelligent way of failing” that can leave organizations stronger.

Professor Rita McGrath, Faculty Director and Associate Professor of Management at Columbia Business School, concluded that with a strategic approach, you can use failing work to your advantage. Failure doesn’t have to be a setback when learning from it can point you in the right direction.

“Stop worrying about the rate of failure,” she says. “Fail fast, and move on.“

Professor McGrath elaborates on her conclusions in this short video.

The main concept is an intelligent way of failing, outlined in these four principles:

  1. Determine what success will look like. Professor McGrath is amazed at the number of companies who don’t map out what their success should look like beforehand.  Yet, they wonder why they are going down the wrong track.
  2. Turn assumptions into opportunities for knowledge and learning, rather than trying to hold on to convention. Professor McGrath observes that there’s a lot of time and breath wasted in organizations by people trying to be right instead of being open to new ideas – and leaving room for innovation.
  3. Limit the amount of uncertainty you’re dealing with at any one time. Too much uncertainty makes it difficult to see the big picture. “If there are too many variables, you’re not going make any sense out of what you’re seeing, “she says.
  4. Collect data from the failure and share learnings. “Use the failure as a stepping stone to success and an opportunity to learn from error, grow in knowledge, and overcome challenges,” says Professor McGrath.

Source: Columbia Business School

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