don't fear failure - blog and slideshare

Failure. What can comms people learn from it? Lots, actually. Don't fear it... 

by Dan Slee

It's such a damning word isn't it, failure? It's the bowler hatted man falling on a banana skin or the wrongly sent tweet that leaves us falling about LOL-ing.

But the truth is, failure is beautiful. From failure we learn and we can do a better job. We shouldn't fear failure. We should leave space for failure so we can have the confidence to do bigger better things.

I was faced with a real dilemma just recently. I'd agreed to speak on the topic of failure at the commshero event in Manchester. Fantastic, I thought. A chance to have people rolling in the aisles at a parade of digital fails. Like the subbing mistake on the front page of a magazine that led you to think of how the cover star was a dog eating cannibal.

Or the British Gas #askbg hashtag.

Or maybe even struggling Aston Villa's Twitter chat with a fringe player that went badly wrong. I could maybe even tell the story of the Walsall Council Twitter fail and what we learned. And that's the key. What we learned. When you fail you learn.

There's a matrix that shows the bigger the fail the bigger the learning. It's what happened on the north face of the Eiger in the 1930s where one of the most famous mountaineering disasters in history killed the four members of the climbing party told in mountaineering epic 'The White Spider' by Heinrich Harrer and the excellent film 'The Beckoning Silence.' A fixed rope was gathered in trapping their retreat when their summit attempt turned into a retreat.

Every attempt since has seen climbers leave the rope in place. See? We learn. Don't laugh at failure. Learn. But what was also tempting was just to look at digital fails when there is more to communications than that.

Because if you are not thinking about strategy you are failing. If you are not finding out what keeps senior people awake at night and planning your comms around that you are failing.

If you are not leaving space to experiment, learn and even fail, you are failing. That's all a bigger crime than a tactical. blunder.

So, what are you doing about that?