Lessons about failure from the girl who came last
Everyone has stories of failure. That time you fell off your bike. The day you wore your jumper backwards without realising . That wireframe that confused your customers. The new feature no one used.
Failure is an inevitable part of life and as our delivery practices have matured we’ve celebrated the role that failure plays in building our products.
We Fail Fast. We Fail Forward. We Fail Better.
It almost feels like we want to fail.
It’s as if failure itself is our goal.
Has this obsession with failure clouded our thinking and distracted us from what we are actually trying to achieve?
In this session I will explore the prevailing ideas around failure and how they limit our ability to grow our teams and, just as importantly, the individuals that make up those teams. This talk will leave you with practical actions you can take to create a culture of learning and empowerment…and ultimately create a culture of success rather than failure.
Outline/Structure of the Case Study
- Introduction story (5 mins) - this is a true story about personal failure which I share to create an engaging opening and to frame the rest of the talk. Later in the talk we reexamine this story using our new understanding of failure.
- Discussion of how we currently talk about failure in the context of building digital products (5 mins) - a quick examination of how failure is incorporated into agile, lean and design thinking concepts.
- Why everything we've said about failure is WRONG (2 mins)- I propose that talking about "Safe to Fail" and celebrating failure is contrary to what we actually want to achieve. I suggest that we should be focussing on creating workplaces that are "Safe to Grow" instead.
- An examination of what a Safe to Grow environment looks like (10 minutes) - We look at the common characteristics of high performance environments which make them Safe to Grow and how we can apply these characteristics to our own workplaces. We talk about how mature agile teams generally exhibit some characteristics of Safe to Grow environments but that they are often missing the same key element.
- The Safe to Grow framework (18 minutes) - I distil the characteristics of Safe to Grow environments into a framework with 3 simple steps and then delve into how we practically implement each step. I will provide tips and tricks for each step, as well as anecdotes of when I have struggled to implement a particular step and suggest resources that the audience can follow up to continue their learning.
- Discussion (5 mins) - I encourage questions about implementing the Safe to Grow framework and challenge people to share how they will implement this in their own workplaces. This talk usually generates good discussion because few work places are truly Safe to Grow. The ideas in the talk are new to people and frankly, challenging, because creating a Safe to Grow environment requires courage and changing the way you look at the role of individuals in teams.
Timings are a guide only. They indicate where most of the topic is explored.
- Transform the way you think about creating empowering environments
- Understand why you need to stop talking about Safe to Fail
- Learn how to use the Safe to Grow framework to create a fulfilling work place for your teams and to maximise the outcomes they produce.
- Learn how to safely and directly challenge the individuals in your teams to inspire them to maximise their performance
People at all levels of organisations, who care about creating a culture of bravery, transparency and growth.
Prerequisites for Attendees
Nothing. I do make reference to a few different agile and lean frameworks but I describe these briefly so that prior knowledge of them is not required.