Friday, 29 September 2017

Failure is an Option

The TED Radio Hour features TED presenters and explores their ideas further. This week, in 'Failure is an Option' the host Guy Raz introduces stories that perfectly illustrate the power and importance of embracing failure in order to innovate and change.

Google innovation supremo, the wonderfully named Astro Teller, explains why Google X give bonuses and promotions to those who fail. Yes, you read that right. In the world of the Google 'Moonshot Factory' this makes perfect sense. And it evidently works.
A few notable bits of advice from Teller:

  • 'Run at the hardest parts of the problem first...These are the things most likely to derail your project'.
  • 'There is a difference between learning and failing. Real failure is the point at which you know you are working on is the wrong thing. Stopping at that point, you are shame-free'.
  • 'We have a learning loop of one week'.
  • 'We bonus everyone in a team that chooses to stop their project. This unlocks the potential in every idea'.

Secondly, my favourite 'Undercover Economist' Tim Harford, challenges us to embrace Trial and Error. He gives a brilliant reasoning, using the example of soap powder manufacturing, as to why we should never even try to get solutions to complex problems right first time. His impassioned plea to teachers to stop impressing the need for schoolkids to get 100% is very powerful.

Casey Gerald was brought up in a strict Southern Baptist community in the US. His story of how his beliefs were shattered when the Messiah failed to turn up at the turn of the millennium is very funny and thought provoking. It was however the start of a long journey through which Casey realised that finding out things don't work as expected should be embraced.

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