Project Management Institute

The upside of failure

Only when organizations take risks can they also provide their employees with an environment that encourages innovation and enables success. This article discusses the benefits of creating an organizational culture that accepts failure. In doing so, it looks at how real innovation occurs only when the threat of failure is not only acknowledged but also accepted as a real and reasonable outcome, noting that real business failure is refusing to innovate and not accept failure as a realistic outcome of projects. It explains how one innovative IT industry company--Tata Sona, the holding company of the Tata Group--celebrates failure and rewards failed efforts in a way that encourages employees to take risks and try new things that can, if successful, produce valuable outcomes for the organization. It then identifies why small upstarts are more willing to implement high-risk, innovation-oriented projects, noting the factors and the concerns that can also limit the scope of such explorations and accomplishments. It describes how these companies manage risk and recommends strategies that can help project managers gain stakeholder buy-in on supporting innovative projects that may generate beneficial and innovative results but which may also involve much risk and result in failure.
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