If you’re asking why on earth would we do something crazy like rewarding failure, you should probably start here.

Where we want innovation, there must be failure. The problem is detaching shame from failure and making it ok to try things and fail at work. We’ve looked at writing a Failure CV and how Hackathon’s made failure ok at Facebook. Now lets take a look at how some companies go as far rewarding failure.

In his book ‘The Best Place To Work’ Ron Friedman shares the story of Sarah Blakey the founder of Spanx. The now billionaire founder credits her father with her success. As a child, at dinner each night, her father would ask them what did you fail at today?”. This redefined failure for Blakey:

“Instead of failure being the outcome, failure became not trying. And it forced me, at a young age to want to push myself so much further out of my comfort zone.”

More and more we are seeing businesses take steps to acknowledge and then reward failure:

  • One such example in NixonMcinnes – At Brighton-based social media company NixonMcInnes the Church of Fail is a monthly ritual. Employees are invited to stand and confess their mistakes, and are wildly applauded for doing so.
  • “Making failure socially acceptable makes us more open and creative,” says McInnes
  • WL Gore celebrates failure with beer or champagne – WL Gore, the makers of Goretex, was once voted the most innovative company in the US. They have long celebrated when a project doesn’t work, with beer or champagne – “just as they would if it had been a success”.
  • Gore’s fundamental beliefs include: “action is prized; ideas are encouraged; and making mistakes is viewed as part of the creative process.”
  • Grey Advertising offer a ‘Heroic Failure Award’
  • Eli Lily host failure parties
  • SurePayroll added the category ‘Best New Mistake’ to their annual awards.

You can find 8 examples of rewarding failure here.

How can you make failure ok by rewarding it?


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