Whoever said “failure is not an option” is a complete idiot. Actually, they weren’t- it was Gene Kranz, NASA’s Flight Director during the Apollo 13 mission (if you aren’t familiar with the Apollo 13 mission let me know, I’ll mail you my VHS of the movie). Kranz knew failure wasn’t an option, he has several astronauts stranded in space with a limited oxygen supply. Kranz’s world and the world of technology are totally different. Being in technology almost requires a mindset that views failure as not only ok, but failure should be sought after. Certainly failure is not the endgame, and nobody sets out in life to become a failure and although being a failure ins’t glamorous it doesn’t mean it’s bad to fail. Failure is actually a really important step on the road to success.
Failure is a result of not playing it safe. Companies don’t become wildly successful by “playing it safe.” In order to be successful in IT/AV it’s important to innovate and to push boundaries. Great CIOs, CTOs and Technology leaders don’t expect their team to adopt a ‘play it safe’ strategy.
Failure helps you learn. Companies developing products sink obscene amounts of money into research, development, testing and quality checks of these new products. Yet, inevitably, something doesn’t work perfectly or there is a hiccup with the product. The company doesn’t throw away the product, take down the marketing materials and start over. Instead they deconstruct the failure and learn what can be done differently, and better, the next time.
Failure is incredibly important. If you’ve never failed at anything then maybe you’re the idiot. Just kiding, but maybe if you’ve never failed you should consider whether or not what you’re doing is really worth succeeding at.
Each Friday, for the next several weeks, a new post will be released with another key characteristic of what it takes to be successful in technology leadership. These posts are in no particular order; I’d love for you to provide feedback and let me know if you think I’m missing something, or if you’d like to see a particular trait addressed please feel free to email me, or leave a comment. I’m hoping this will be a useful dialogue about what is necessary to become a successful technology leader.