Random Thoughts on Life and Work

August 22, 2013

Failure Is An Option

Filed under: Non-Profit — Darren Mullenix @ 1:38 pm
Tags: , , , ,

We often hear the statement, “Failure is not an option!” – usually said in movies by the hero who is facing a big challenge. Unfortunately, there are organizations who adopt the mantra and try to live that way as well.

I once met an organization that was afraid of failure – afraid of making a mistake. So afraid that all decisions were made at the highest levels of the organization through one individual. Most of the staff were subject to endless review of all ideas, promotional pieces, hiring decisions and even office space decoration. It went so far that even a stool which was going to be used in a back room by a technician had to be approved by the executive office.

While control systems can be a good thing, there is a balance between maintaining a high degree of excellence (which often requires frequent review) and trusting your teams to use their God given skills to accomplish the organizational mission. Each organization has to wrestle with that issue and decide where that line is for them.

Here are some thought conditioners:

  • Is speed at issue?
  • What is the cost of a potential mistake?
  • If a mistake is made, do you look more or less “human” to your public?
  • What does your control system cost in terms of moral, initiative, and retention?

There’s a time and place for both control and freedom (and dare I say encouragement to explore). Finding that sweet spot of balance is the key to amazing results.

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