Training Magazine Middle East March 2015 - Page 39

COLUMN - What's Next?


Liz Wiseman, in her bestselling book, Multipliers, provides leadership skills and techniques for creating an environment in which failure is encouraged, and where teams rapidly extract intelligence and learning from mistakes, growing as a result. This environment is also quite tough in the expectation that mistakes won’t be repeated and that everyone is open and transparent about what went wrong.

A corporate culture that accepts failure benefits from diminished internal politics – there is much less in the way of finger pointing and blame games, thanks to trust, transparency and openness.

Leaders can start by talking about their own failures. This might seem uncomfortable, but admitting that you’ve made mistakes and then sharing the learning, is the fastest way to building the right culture. Next, discuss and frame – “when is it okay to fail and when is it not okay to fail” in the organisation. Leaders need to create a space where experimentation is encouraged, celebrating all results, both good and bad.

Individual Contributor

Failing is often seen as a loss of face and honour. In some cases it might mean losing a job, which in the UAE, with so much riding on your work permit, is a high price to pay for being innovative.

However, employees are often at their most productive when being asked to do something for the first time. When the stakes are high for both the organisation and themselves, and the project is recognized as a risk, individuals feel the positive influence of pressure, but not the debilitating emotion of stress.

This is why I believe training for failure is needed – breaking down barriers so employees, leaders and organisations feel excited about experimentation. There are a few resources that can help. Design Thinker, a business simulation that builds on IDEO’s theory of how breakthrough innovations are created in a series of small steps and many experiments, teaches all levels of employees to think outside the box and challenge perceptions.

Liz Wiseman’s books, Multipliers and Rookie Smarts – both help establish leadership and organisational context for an organisation that embraces failure and re-learning.

Finally, there’s learning from organisations that are rapidly growing and beating traditional businesses at their own game. Attend a course at Singularity University in San Francisco or read Exponential Organisations by Salim Ismail, both of which will reinforce the need to experiment, fail, learn and try again in rapid cycles.

The irony is if we can become comfortable with failure, perhaps we can start to build the elusive ‘Learning Organisations’ that we have been striving for in our industry for years.

Hazel Jackson is CEO of Biz-Group, a leading training and development company based in Dubai. Hazel’s primary role is to scour the globe for the latest training and talent development tools, resources and systems to figure out what is needed in the Middle East. Her nickname in the company and native genius is “What’s Next?”