The Sunday Mail
Big Business Ideas
WHEN a business performs an activity, it gains experience. That experience provides useful feedback, whether the activity succeeded or not. The company must analyse the feedback to find out what could be done differently and in a better way.
The business then implements these better methods and approaches in new projects. As such, every disaster is an opportunity for learning.
Embracing failure: The key to learning and growth
There are many stories of success built on failure.
American inventor Thomas Edison failed to register patents for his ticker tape machine, so he felt compelled to continue inventing, eventually perfecting the incandescent light bulb.
British inventor James Dyson produced more than 5 000 prototypes before he came up with a successful bagless vacuum cleaner. Success for entrepreneurs always involves trial and error, as well as resilience.
In the 1990s, Strive Masiyiwa, Zimbabwe’s first US-dollar billionaire, sought to turn challenges in the telecommunications sector into an opportunity. As Zimbabweans looked for better and reliable communication, Econet Wireless saw an opportunity.
Personal experience is recognised as the way individuals learn, and it is much the same for organisations; they gain knowledge and capability from corporate experience.
The pace of change in the global market means constant improvement has become the norm. The greatest challenge, however, is for companies to recognise failure and learn from it.
In order to do this, an organisation needs to build a culture where people are not criticised or penalised for mistakes, but are actively encouraged to gain useful insights from them. Many businesses refer to this as a “no blame culture”.
No blame culture embraces the possibility of errors and encourages their reporting.
Some companies recognise that it is only through failure that success can be found, and build this principle into their culture. Econet, for example, allows technical staff to allocate 15 percent of their time to experimenting with ideas, understanding that there will be occasional winners, along with the repeated failures.
Recognising error, cutting losses, spotting new opportunities and changing course are a test of leadership and also sends out a positive message to those who work in the organisation. It requires rational, unemotional thought that focuses on the costs and benefits of changing direction.
Failure is stepping stone to success
Failure is a word that typically evokes negative emotions and disappointment. However, recent research and personal stories of successful individuals have shed light on the profound impact that failure can have on personal development and achieving success. Learning from failure is the secret to unlocking our true potential and finding the path to growth and accomplishment.
Failure provides invaluable lessons that cannot be learned through success alone. It strengthens resilience, develops problem-solving skills and allows for self-reflection and improvement. When we fail, we are forced to reassess our approach, identify weaknesses and find alternative solutions. This process of self-evaluation helps us to grow, both personally and professionally.
Psychological studies have shown that failure can actually enhance cognitive abilities and increase creative thinking.
It forces individuals to think outside the box, adapt and come up with innovative solutions to overcome obstacles. When we embrace failure as a learning experience rather than a setback, we open ourselves up to new perspectives, ideas and possibilities that were previously unseen.
Learning from failure is not about glorifying mistakes but rather embracing them as necessary stepping stones towards growth and success. It requires a shift in mind-set, transforming failure from a personal defeat into a learning opportunity.
By reframing failure, we empower ourselves to embrace challenges, take calculated risks and reach new heights.
As we navigate the ever-evolving landscape of the 21st century, failure is inevitable.
However, it is through these failures that we uncover our true potential and achieve greatness. So, let us not fear failure but embrace it, for it is in these moments of adversity that we find the greatest opportunities for growth and transformation.
Stephene Chikozho is the managing director of Urbane Create Agency — a strategy, marketing and advertising agency. He writes in his personal capacity. You can follow him on social media (Instagram, Facebook, X, LinkedIn, Threads), WhatsApp: +263772409651 or email: [email protected]