Innovation in Companies | Reward Failure & Get Results

In business and in life, people are rewarded and praised for success, which creates a culture where we don’t learn from failure.

This deprioritizes innovation in companies. Plus, you may end up repeating those mistakes.

Years of research has led Laurence Weinzimmer, Bradley University management professor, to conclude that businesses that are accepting of mistakes have better employee and financial performance.

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How do we learn from failure?

Someone with a fixed mindset believes they are entitled to success without much effort and regards failure as a personal affront. When things go wrong, they are quick to blame, withdraw, lie, and even avoid future challenges or risk.

Someone with a growth mindset sees failure as an opportunity rather than an insult. When challenged, they are quick to reassess, adjust, and try again. These team members are the hotbed of innovation in companies.

We are all born with growth mindsets, but some grow into fixed mid-sets. The good news is, this can change!

Research suggests that we should seek jobs that encourage a growth mindset: learning. A position with challenges should be viewed as one with opportunities rather than stress, which is much more readily fostered in an environment where failure isn’t punished. If you’ve stopped learning, then consider looking either for new avenues of growth or for another job.

That’s right! If you’re afraid to fail or unable to pursue tasks that might fail in your current position, you should move on.

Reward Failure & Boost Innovation in Companies!

In a recent interview with Motley Fool, Seth Godin explained:

“There’s the secret to innovation. If you are saying to all your employees, ‘Innovate, innovate, innovate,’ but you give the Employee of the Month parking space to the person who never screwed up and you give the bonus and the vacation to the person who doesn’t make mistakes, you are not serious about innovation, and your team knows it.”

Innovation in companies happens faster if you create a culture that allows for experimentation and rewards employees for trying new ideas, even if they fail.

Learning from failure is hard, complicated work. No one likes to admit they’ve failed. You want your team to fail intelligently. Reward failure with your team for taking the right kinds of risks.

innovation in companies

Experience is the best teacher.

If you do not fail in any of your endeavors, how do you learn to be better? When you give your team the freedom to fail, the lessons of success open up for them (and for you).

According to a recent study led by Emory University’s Diwas KC, failure is actually the best teacher when someone else has failed. For many competitive businesses in the US – unlike doctors or scientists – the “other guy” isn’t likely to share his failures with you. However, participants in this study had difficulty learning from their own failure v.s. someone else’s failure.

Your competition doesn’t want you to benefit from their knowledge or understand their strategies, which is why it is important for you to foster a culture that encourages risks and failures. Do not jeopardize the success of the company as a whole, but encourage risks that may bring a lot of new information to light that can be shared among your team of individuals.

You learn fast from failure.

Failure can enhance your brain. Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck tracked and compared the brain waves of subjects with varying mindsets.

Those with growth mind-sets entered a more focused mental state as they try to figure out their mistake after failing at a task. And in subsequent trials, they improve. Those with fixed mindsets, however, never enter this focused state of learning and show little, if any, advancement.

There can be no success without failure.

Ok. Ok. Some success and innovation in companies may be possible without failure…at least without your own failure.

However, stories like J. K. Rowling‘s journey to discover Harry Potter will inspire you (and your team) to think outside of the box. Plus, you’re in a better position if you embrace failure when you and your team have security.

Don’t wait until there are jobs on the line to start taking new risks. That kind of stuff only looks good in movies.

reward failure

Success, of course, is the ultimate reward. Your team wants to see you and your company succeed. Enable them to take some risks, work on innovative team building, prioritize communication and you’ll see results in no time.

Have you had success with boosting innovation? How do you reward failure?

Samantha McDuffee

Team Contributor

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