FAIL TO SUC­CEED

Busi­nesses should not be afraid to al­low fail­ure within the or­gan­i­sa­tion, as fail­ing of­fers tan­gi­ble ben­e­fits for learn­ing

CEO Middle East - - CON­TENTS -

WITHIN BUSI­NESS AND ACROSS SO­CI­ETY

at large, we have put a pre­mium on suc­cess. How­ever, in­no­va­tive busi­ness lead­ers recog­nise that it is through fail­ure – our own and that of our col­leagues – that we learn the greatest les­sons. Fail­ure teaches us more than suc­cess does, and it is cer­tainly more mem­o­rable. With­out the pos­si­bil­ity of fail­ure, there will be no ap­petite for innovation, and no cu­rios­ity to fuel dis­cov­ery. If teams feel there are ad­verse con­se­quences to mak­ing mis­takes, they step away from risk – and in do­ing so, sus­tain the sta­tus quo.

In large en­ter­prises, fail­ure is rarely seen as pos­i­tive or even ac­cept­able. As an En­ter­prise Strate­gist for Ama­zon Web Ser­vices (AWS), I can con­firm Ama­zon’s rep­u­ta­tion as a com­pany that sup­ports and even en­cour­ages fail­ure – and this starts right at the top. As Jeff Be­zos fa­mously says, “Ama­zon is the best place to fail.” Our view is that you’re not reach­ing for enough if you did not fail along the way. Ama­zon’s Fire Phone failed com­pletely, but we learned how to build very com­plex hard­ware and that has helped us with get­ting Alexa voice ser­vice right and de­vel­op­ing the Echo home speaker prod­uct line.

Through my con­ver­sa­tions with en­ter­prise lead­ers in the Mid­dle East, there is con­sis­tency that build­ing an or­gan­i­sa­tion that sup­ports the idea of fail­ure re­volves around three key ar­eas: en­cour­ag­ing ex­per­i­men­ta­tion, cul­ti­vat­ing an or­gan­i­sa­tion where it is safe to fail, and learn­ing from fail­ure to make the next phase stronger.

En­cour­age ex­per­i­men­ta­tion

All com­pa­nies are look­ing to in­no­vate more rapidly to build new ca­pa­bil­i­ties, but they don’t know how to en­able their or­gan­i­sa­tion for fail­ure. Cre­at­ing a cul­ture of ex­per­i­men­ta­tion calls for deal­ing with fail­ure and ac­cept­ing it as an im­por­tant part of the process. Cloud adop­tion was a cat­a­lyst for en­abling Aramex’s teams to ex­per­i­ment, iter­ate, and fail fast.

Mais Ri­hani, chief tech­nol­ogy of­fi­cer of Aramex, says, “Build­ing on AWS, the team to­day has the free­dom to pro­vide MVPs (min­i­mum vi­able prod­ucts) for the slight­est ideas for the busi­ness, test them in the mar­ket, and then as­sess and rec­om­mend whether to con­tinue in that di­rec­tion or quickly move to the next thing.”

Make it safe to fail

Man­ag­ing fail­ure is a fine bal­ance. As a leader, it’s im­por­tant to give peo­ple the free­dom to fail, while not let­ting things go too far be­fore stop­ping and fix­ing them. Busi­nesses must lower the cost of fail­ure, and that could mean dif­fer­ent things in dif­fer­ent or­gan­i­sa­tions.

For Chal­houb Group, it meant cre­at­ing a safe en­vi­ron­ment within the Group for new ideas in the form of a trans­for­ma­tion ini­tia­tive called Shift Chal­houb.

Ra­nia Masri, chief trans­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer at Chal­houb Group, says, “As part of the move­ment, we launched Ibtikar, an in­house in­cu­ba­tor for Chal­houb em­ploy­ees. Ibtikar pro­vides the unique op­por­tu­nity for em­ploy­ees to ex­per­i­ment and test ideas with ded­i­cated time, fund­ing, and men­tor­ship, where risk-tak­ing and fail­ure are ex­pected and wel­comed, and con­sid­ered learn­ing mo­ments for the or­gan­i­sa­tion.”

Find the les­sons

Fail­ure is an op­por­tu­nity to look back, ex­am­ine why it didn’t work and what was your role in it. It’s tempt­ing to dis­miss any fail­ures and fo­cus on projects in hand that might of­fer fu­ture suc­cesses, but if you don’t un­der­stand why some­thing went wrong, you could be set­ting your­self up to make the same mis­take again and again.

At Seera Group, fail­ing fast means learn­ing fast. Louise Blake, vice pres­i­dent of

Data at Seera Group, says, “We once built a ma­chine learn­ing model to pre­dict a user’s propen­sity to pur­chase on our web­site, which sig­nif­i­cantly failed to deliver at launch as a re­sult of not in­volv­ing the team who would be util­is­ing this model.

“Recog­nis­ing this mis­take, to­day we are tri­al­ing mul­ti­dis­ci­plinary squads for prod­uct de­vel­op­ment, from the dis­cov­ery stage through to im­ple­men­ta­tion, and are al­ready see­ing the ben­e­fits.”

Fail­ure is not al­ways an easy topic to talk about, par­tic­u­larly in times of eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion, but it’s at these very mo­ments that teams need the re­as­sur­ance that it’s okay to fail. His­tory is re­plete with ex­am­ples of suc­cess­ful prod­ucts born from failed ex­per­i­ments and the fu­ture suc­cess of busi­nesses is set in their abil­ity to em­brace fail­ure.

Learn­ing from fail­ure His­tory is re­plete with ex­am­ples of suc­cess­ful prod­ucts born from failed ex­per­i­ments, says McLemore

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