A badge of honor?

The Smart Manager - - Editorial - Poorn­ima subra­ma­nian | se­nior ed­i­tor

Fail­ure has a new color—white. It is no longer the evil an­tag­o­nist peo­ple shied away from. In fact, they now em­brace it. Mul­ti­tudes of suc­cess sto­ries built on the de­bris of mul­ti­ple fail­ures are a part of busi­ness folk­lore. And it is no longer a Sil­i­con Val­ley phe­nom­e­non. It is ac­cepted across all walks of life, across coun­tries and cul­tures. There is now a Fail­ure In­sti­tute—a first-of-its-kind or­ga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cated to study­ing busi­ness fail­ures.

This trans­for­ma­tion in per­spec­tive has had many pos­i­tive spin-offs. En­trepreneur­ship is on the as­cent, in­no­va­tors are em­bold­ened, there is enough cap­i­tal on the ta­ble, and most im­por­tantly, it is no longer the end of the road. Sec­ond, third, and even fourth chances are now a norm. Our cover story this is­sue is on fail­ure—how not to fall prey to the vic­tim syn­drome, learn­ing from fail­ure, and the need to trans­form one’s re­la­tion­ship with it. And else­where in the is­sue, Vivek Mehra of Sage Pub­li­ca­tions writes about the need to build a cul­ture of com­pas­sion in or­ga­ni­za­tions. Imag­ine thriv­ing in a cul­ture that cel­e­brates com­pas­sion and fail­ures!

Leti­cia Gasca, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Fail­ure In­sti­tute and co-founder of FuckUp Nights—a plat­form where in­di­vid­u­als can share sto­ries of pro­fes­sional fail­ures—in her TED Talk in­jects a note of cau­tion. “Every time I lis­ten to Sil­i­con Val­ley types or stu­dents brag­ging about fail­ing fast… I cringe. Be­cause I think that there is a dark side on the mantra ‘fail fast’. Of course, fail­ing fast is a great way to ac­cel­er­ate learn­ing and avoid wast­ing time. But I fear that when we present rapid fail­ure to en­trepreneurs as their one and only op­tion, we might be pro­mot­ing lazi­ness… I also fear that the cul­ture of rapid fail­ure could be min­i­miz­ing the dev­as­tat­ing con­se­quences of the fail­ure of a busi­ness… For this rea­son… I want to pro­pose a new mantra: fail mind­fully. We must re­mem­ber that busi­nesses are made of peo­ple, busi­nesses are not en­ti­ties that ap­pear and dis­ap­pear mag­i­cally with­out con­se­quences… But what does it mean to fail mind­fully? It means be­ing aware of the im­pact, of the con­se­quences of the fail­ure of that busi­ness. Be­ing aware of the lessons learned. And be­ing aware of the re­spon­si­bil­ity to share those learn­ings with the world.” An in­sight I am sure many of us will mull over.

Happy Read­ing!

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