Fail Faster

Full-disclosure: I’m not the first to use the term “Fail Faster”. But I love it. Coca-Cola CEO Neville Isdell, at the annual meeting informed shareholders that the company was now going on an innovation tear and that his organization’s reinvention plan was contained in a document entitled The Manifesto for Growth (I adore that title). He noted that spending on marketing and innovation would increase by $400,000,000 and then – and here’s the big line – observed: “You will see some failures. As we take more risks, this is something we must accept as part of the regeneration process.” Which brings me to the imperative of Failing Fast.

At a leadership presentation I gave a while ago to the sales team of a big pharmaceutical company, someone came up to me afterwards and said: “Robin, I loved your speech. Especially the idea about failure being the price of greatness.” Too many of us fear failure so we don’t even try (Seneca once said: “It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare. It is because we do not dare that things are difficult”). Too many of us are afraid (there’s that fear thing again) of looking silly or being embarrassed by failure so we don’t take the risk and seize an opportunity. Too many of us think failure is bad. It isn’t. It’s good.

There can be no success without failure. Just part of the process. The companies and people who have reached the heights of success are the same ones who have failed the most. You need to fail to win. And the faster you fail, the more quickly you’ll learn precisely what you need to do to win.  So Fail Fast. Outfail the competition. Outfail the person you once were.

I’ll leave you with a quote from RFK: “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” Perfect.

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