Thoughtful Failures

Thoughtful Failures

What is the Thoughtful Failures story tactic?

Every time you fail there's a story to tell--and plenty of people ready to listen.

Nobody likes to make mistakes. But we rarely make them deliberately. Most of our failures come after much careful thought. There's a lot of wisdom to be extracted from what Google call "thoughtful failures" (which is why they reward staff who make them). Failure is only a tragedy if you cover it up or refuse to learn from it.

Compare this to Epic Fail stories that entrepreneurs tell about their business disasters.

How to use the Thoughtful Failures story tactic

Run this workshop once you've got your data in. Here are three ways to turn your work into different types of story:

  1. What went wrong? Get as wide a range of views as possible. Focus on thought processes, decisions, actions and communication. Try not to assign blame or criticise people.

  2. Now see what the failure might tell you about:
    Goals: were we aiming for the right things?
    Assumptions: how was our knowledge incomplete?
    Insights: when did we realise we were going wrong?
    Skills: do we need to improve or learn new ones?
    Communication: where and when did it break down

  3. Ask "what could we do differently next time?"

  4. Ask "who else needs to hear this story, so they don't repeat the same mistake?" As Laszlo Bock at Google says: "Find the moral in the mistake, then teach it."

  5. Craft this thoughtful failure into a story with No Easy Way

Credit: Laszlo Bock, 2015.

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Thoughtful Failures is one of 54 storytelling recipe cards inside the Storyteller Tactics card deck.

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