Why on earth would you want to advertise your failures? Failures make us feel ashamed – that’s not exactly a feeling we want to perpetuate. Futhermore how could advertising your failures ever help you progress in your career?

The problem is that failing at something at some point is an inevitable fact of life, so if we took the time to learn something from our failures, instead of sweeping them under the rug as quickly as possible then hastily looking around to see if anyone saw, we might see the value in screwing up.

HCL Technologies are doing exactly that – they’re detaching shame from failure. If you want to access the firm’s prestigious internal leadership program you are required to write your failure CV. This CV details some of your biggest career flops and focuses on what you learnt from each of them. The key here is that you can show your ability to turn failure into progress.

It’s fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure

– Bill Gates 

The interesting thing is that the Failure CV of many of our successful entrepreneurs and sports stars would be very long. Think of Steve Jobs and his number of failures before getting it right?

What might your own Failure CV look like?

A Princeton professor published his online for the world to see, and HBR wrote a great piece that explores why this Failure CV is important. A Failure CV matters because it makes failure something we can talk about, it raises the rug and takes a good look at everything we’ve swept underneath it.

Why all this harping on about failure? Until failure is ok in our organisations – innovation is just a word being thrown around, a desire and not an action. Innovation and failure are inextricably linked, they’re like love and marriage, they go together like horse and carriage, you can’t have one without the other.

The biggest and best organisations of our time fail often and they often fail intentionally.

Ron Friedman, in his book ‘The Best Place to Work‘  talks a lot about a Failure CV.


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