In 2000/01 I was fortunate enough to work for www.lastminute.com in the UK. During this time I worked very closely with Carl Lyons – Marketing Director, and had a great amount of contact with co founders Martha Lane Fox and Brent Hoberman, along with countless other talented people.
There were many things I loved about my job but the thing which has stuck with me most is the business had a culture of failure. It was OK to fail…. and there was no fear of it. This culture started with Martha and Brent and permeated its way through the whole company – it was scary, thrilling and inspiring.
That’s not to say we didn’t want to succeed, and we weren’t striving for the best, but we were allowed to try new things. That’s not to say we could waste resources or not think through decisions but there was a real sense it was OK to make mistakes, try new things. There wasn’t a fear of failure culture but a let’s try stuff culture.
After leaving was probably when I realised how freeing and inspirational this was. No company I have worked for since has had such a supportive culture and such a feeling you could just get out there and try new things.
Buinesses need to realise it’s OK if every idea you implement isn’t the million dollar idea. By supporting the implementation of new ideas, refining ideas, it allows you to make the good better and the better best . Also it allows you to try ideas out and let them go if they don’t succeed without fear of retribution. The most important thing is to learn from your mistakes.
Other businesses I have worked in with have a fear of failure culture and, in my experience, have less creativity and less likely to make the million idea happen because people are just too scared it may not turn out perfectly, so they don’t bother trying.
I am a big believer you learn a lot more from your failures than your successes, and really hope I am creating in my current role no fear of failure and cultivating a culture of innovation and ideas.