Failure rates for projects are staggering. We shouldn’t be surprised. By definition projects are unique. Unique means that in the history of the world, no one has ever done it before – with these people, in this environment, with these materials…something is different. We should take care to manage “bleeding edge” projects a little differently. Thomas Edison reminds us of the power of persistence and conducting “lessons learned” to inform our next phase or project. A lightbulb went off for us when we read Growthink’s article dated August 1, 2012, “Six Steps for Turning Failure into Success,” which was meant for entrepreneurs, but which we can also leverage as project managers. Today, we’re bringing you Part 1 of our thoughts on Growthink’s article. We’ll be posting Part 2 next week, so stay tuned for more…
Excerpt from Dave Lavinsky’s article “Six Steps for Turning Failure into Success”:
|“It’s time to think about the future! Take what you learned from the failure and apply it to a new or revised plan towards the same goal. Look at the bright side-you now have more information and knowledge than you did making your last plan! This should give you a little more confidence, knowing your odds are better this time. This is the same mindset that Thomas Edison had when he said, after years of trying to create a light bulb, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
So rather than reacting negatively to failures and problems when they occur, or getting stressed out about what happened (as if you’re somehow exempt, unlike all the other [project managers] throughout history), learn how to react productively instead.
Allowing negative thinking and fear to creep in will cloud your vision, lead to less effective plans, and will short-circuit your ability to remain consistent and motivated.”
On that last point, note that the negative thinkers on your team are your best assets in pointing out the problems that could have led to the failure. If you are facillitating a lessons learned session, don’t let them bring the group down. Harness the power of multiple perspectives to understand the root causes and suggest how to try things differently in the future. And remind them that Mr. Edison was not a doubting Thomas.