Charlotte Rush10 April 2017

How to embrace the power of f**k-ups

The world has seen a fair few f*** ups over the last 12 months…and I think you all know what I’m talking about. I am, of course, referring to the travesty that has been the recent entire season of Married at First Sight.

And as we reflect on months gone by, it is a good time to consider what we might learn from the world’s f***-ups, but perhaps more importantly, our own.

An initiative that is encouraging people all around the world to embrace their own personal mistakes are F***up Nights. The first F***up Night took place in Mexico in 2012 when five entrepreneurs decided that they had heard enough about success and instead decided to each share a story about their failed projects. What started as beer-induced banter has become a global movement, with F***up Nights being hosted all around the world. What’s great about these events is the message that comes with them – f*** ups are things that you can and should learn from. And they should most definitely be shared.

When it comes to innovation, it is critical to embrace failure – both on an individual and organisational level. At Inventium, we encourage organisations to avoid bad failure – spending lots of time, money and resources on launching an innovation only to have it flop. Instead, organisations need to lean into good failure – failure that is quick and cheap and full of learning.

A great example of embracing failure comes from the Tata Group. Every year, this 140-year-old company hosts its InnoVista Awards, which celebrate the most successful innovations that have been launched. Within this program is the Dare to Try award category – reserved for ideas that were attempted but have fallen short of achieving their projected results. Each year, the winner of the Dare to Try category is published so that anyone can read about the company’s risk-taking that hasn’t paid off.

To embrace failure and harness the power of F***up Nights within your organisation:

  • Host your own F***up Night – invite some willing and influential people within your organisation to share a f*** up in a panel-style event, or instruct people to hop into pairs with someone they haven’t met before, and share a f*** up.
  • If you are a leader, share one of your recent f*** ups in your next team meeting. Not only will your team respect you for it, you will also encourage them to start sharing their own f*** ups and, importantly, learn from them.
  • Attend a F***up night in Australia hosted by Spur Projects, and in the process, show your support for their innovative approaches to suicide prevention in Australian men.