It seemed like a bolt of lightening out of the clear blue sky, but suddenly all you could hear about when it comes to the business world was how great failure is. It seems so counterintuitive, but suddenly business leaders from companies like Coca-Cola, Netflix, and even Amazon began to preach the virtues of failure. It has taken hold in business culture like wildfire, and now it is accepted as common knowledge that failure can be used as a tool to improve.
The Coca-Cola CEO, James Quincy, has encouraged his managers to not be afraid of failure. He says that many within the company have operated in such a way so as to totally avoid the possibility of any failure at any point in their career. This goes back to the “New Coke” debacle that cost the company so much heartache many years ago. While that was one of the most public failures in business history, Quincy hopes that it will not keep his managers from trying new things.
John Hastings from Netflix has also been interested in pushing his people to do more to find the failures that they can learn from within the company. The company was putting up record subscriber numbers and producing a number of hit shows, but he was concerned that they were not trying enough. He said that their cancellation rate was not high enough. If the company was really trying unique things, the rate would be higher he figured. Since that rate was not high, he feared that Netflix employees were not experimenting enough.
Even good old Amazon has room to do better when it comes to failure. Jeff Bezos, the CEO and wealthiest person on the Earth, believes that his company’s growth comes from its embrace of failure. He says that he and the company make bold bets, and that bets of that size can lead to failures. However, they do sometimes lead to home run success as well. Amazon has had more than its fair share of successes.
It turns out that those who have seen the most success in the last few decades have all been people who have been willing to embrace failure and mistakes. They are not so risk-averse as to not take a chance on something that could pay out handsomely. Instead, they work diligently to make sure that the risks they do take are ones that will legitimately pay out for themselves and their companies. Failure is not the desired goal, but it is a tool that can be learned from. Every time a company fails, those who examine these failures can learn something from them. They can figure out how to learn from those mistakes so that they can change them in the future.
Business leaders are preaching from the scripture of failure not just because this is the popular thing to do, but because it actually seems to work well.