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Embracing Failure in Business and in Life

Updated: Jan 3, 2020

Written by: Evan Goodfellow

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Admonishing Success While Hiding Failure

In a recent article on Harvard Business Review the author Bill Taylor looks at the fear of failure and how it has hindered businesses. The article entitled “How Coca-Cola, Netflix, and Amazon Learn from Failure” examines the need to make mistakes and grow. We see progressive companies calling us to find out about market research online communities as a way to gain feedback about what they are doing right and what they are doing wrong. As with humans, so with business, we need to make mistakes to grow. What is interesting is whether individuals have always been afraid of failure or if our current society has seen an increase in this. In my opinion, I believe that it has increased as of recently, in part due to the image of success that is constantly flaunted through social media and what began with reality television shows.

Spotlight on Success

Reality television shows from the 90’s brought in an heir of perfection, and glamour to peoples’ lives. The seemingly mundane became glamorous and people began feeling that their life too should be extraordinary. Now we have Instagram accounts that revolve around this facade of perfection.  This desire to keep up an heir of perfection has resulted in individuals fearing failure. This fear of failure has begun showing itself in business. Market research online communities can be scary for companies. Gathering qualitative research data and opening discussion boards scares some managers with the idea of opening up the floodgates for customers to tell exactly how they feel about their product or service. Companies and management need to realize that their product and service isn’t perfect, and that the best way to grow is to fail.

Coke Knows Failure

In the article by Bill Taylor he writes how in May the newly named CEO of Coca-Cola Co., James Quincy called his managers together and encouraged them to shed the fear of failure. Other top CEO’s such as those working for Netflix and Amazon know that success comes from taking risks and failing. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings mentioned that he was worried that Netflix had too many hit shows. He writes, “If you’re not prepared to fail, you’re not prepared to learn. And unless people and organizations manage to keep learning as fast as the world is changing, they’ll never keep growing and evolving.”

Pain of Loss Might be Greater than Pleasure of Winning

The article goes on to describe a presentation given by Patrick Doyle, CEO of Domino’s Pizza. A man who had a tremendously successful run, admonished his listeners that in every company there are two things to be aware of in regards to failure. The first he dubs the “omission bias,” this means that an employee with a new idea will choose not to pursue it because if it doesn’t work it could damage their career. The second is called “loss aversion” which means that most people play not to lose rather than play to win. He states, “The pain of loss is double the pleasure of winning.”

Fear of failure can be crippling, and it can stifle your best ideas. As leaders we need to encourage our employees to fear not trying more rather than to fear failure. The important part of failing is to learn from your mistakes and move on. We believe that market research online communities is the tool that companies can use to find out how they are failing and to move and improve continually. 

If you would like to find out more about how market research online communities can help you, please feel free to contact us.

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