Quick question: the last time you heard an inspirational quote around failure – whether fail forward or fast, learn from failure – did you kind of roll your eyes?
It’s OK. You can say yes. I can’t really see you while you’re reading this.
As for me – I’ll confess to the old eye roll when I encounter the “failspirational” wisdom, as I now affectionately call it.
Why? Because honestly – it’s great on a bumper sticker. But how well does it really play out?
I mean – “live every day as if it were your last” sounds like a great idea… until you try to write a check from your optimism account and your bank comes a-calling. Some ideas look great on Instagram…but practicality is another game.
Failure is scary. It can be public and costly – it can have real and lasting implications on customers, shareholders, and employees. And it’s most likely to strike when we’re not armed with certainty – with the data to predict the outcome.
So in order to keep failure at bay… shall we all strive for complacency? Keep on keeping on, and hope our teams and customers stick around?
Well, that’s one way. But not the one I recommend.
While our modern culture places a great premium on formal education, I believe we all bring a unique brand of wisdom, intelligence, and insight to the table. We go to work each day, we see patterns, we notice trends, and our “Spidey senses” tell us things… things we believe, but may not trust because – where’s the data?
So here’s my recommendation: Unleash your intuition. Allow your hunches to come up for air. And your mission, should you choose to accept it, is this: shrink the risk.
Here’s how it works (And yes – a tool is coming):
During a recent engagement, I was working with a technology team battling inefficiency: bottlenecked projects and missed deadlines had become the norm, and business was suffering.
An investigation of the root causes ultimately pointed to an unsurprising disconnect: junior members of the team felt their skills were being underleveraged, while senior leaders were overworked, and feeling compelled to engage in nearly every decision.
The solution, in theory, would have been to simply delegate – democratize decisions, empowering everyone to contribute fully.
The problem, of course, was risk. We had to shrink it.
In other words, leaders had a hunch that their teams could work more independently… but without certainty, the risk was simply too big for leaders to take.
So we ultimately landed on a solution that was progressive in nature. Leaders began working more collaboratively with their teams – inviting “mock” decisions, that leaders could critique, comment on real time – allowing team members to learn along the way.
Then slowly, as each team member became ready, leaders began to let go of the reigns – a little bit at a time… and now with all the certainty required.
And within a few weeks, bottlenecks opened, and products hit on time.
Was there still any risk in the system? Of course. There always will be. But was it much mitigated? It was.
Throughout our journey toward this solution, the Hunch Designer came into being: a simple tool that gives your intuition a voice, and yields a plan to implement.
Now that the Hunch Designer has been developed and tested, I’d love for you to download it and give it a try.
Will it solve everything? It won’t. Will it pay the mortgage? Nope. But – it offers a simple and structured approach to experimenting, protecting yourself, and frankly giving data a much-deserved holiday.