More on Giving Employees Permission to Fail

[We] didn’t hire you so that you would ask me a thousand questions and be unsure about what you are doing. We hired you to produce amazing work. And you are fully capable of doing that. So, if you have a legitimate question, ask me. If not, just produce amazing work. And if you get it wrong, I’ll show you where, why and how to fix it, and you’ll grow.
— Justine Foo, Brains on Fire

What a fantastic work culture! Eric Dodds recounts this early interaction with Justine in an article on giving employees permission to fail and says, “I think part of my problem was that our society views failure primarily as a negative concept.” I think he’s completely right. 

It’s not about failure for the sake of failure; I’d much rather learn from my successes. But if I’m trying new things, I won’t always succeed. I have to get used to failure being an integral part of the process of finding great solutions. I have to embrace that. Otherwise fear of failure will freeze me in my tracks before I can make anything extraordinary. 

Avoidance of failure isn’t the same thing as success. If you want to change the world, but your company culture thinks success = no failure, it will not go well for you. Don’t underestimate the cultural peer pressure to silence disruption and avoid failure in most organizations. The human desire to never be wrong is the biggest enemy of innovation.