7 Powerful Ways to Fail Better (and Succeed Sooner)

No one likes to fail, but in reality, failure teaches valuable lessons that can make your successes far more powerful and long lasting. The key is to experiment often--to try different approaches--until you find the one that works best. Making a series of small bets is the best way to come up with big results.

However, the more you experiment, the more mistakes and outright failures you're going to encounter. Believe it or not, this is actually a good thing--if you want to move the needle in your business, you've got to take risks. You've got to fail faster--and better.

According to Anjali Sastry and Kara Penn--authors of the bookFail Better: Design Smart Mistakes and Succeed Sooner--"Smartleaders, entrepreneurs, and change agents design their innovation projects with a key idea in mind:ensure that every failure is maximally useful."

You can fail better these 7 ways.

1. Be helpful

When you help the members of your team get through difficult situations or rough patches in their projects, you will teach them powerful habits for to learning lessons from failure. Instead of letting them sink, teach them how to swim.

2. Be supportive

The members of your team will be much more willing to risk failure if you encourage them to make courageous decisions with uncertain conclusions, instead of punishing them (which, unfortunately, many bosses still do).

3. Talk about failures

To learn from failures, you have to admit them, analyze them, and then openly discuss them with your team. And not just at the end of a project, but also at regular intervals throughout it.

4. Be courageous and honest

Failing better means being honest and forthright about mistakes that you or the people on your team make. When you cover up mistakes or soft pedal them, then you can't learn everything you possibly can from them. This takes courage, so be brave.

5. Manage shifts in projects

Getting project timing wrong can cause all sorts of problems and errors--leading to dysfunction and failure. Be particularly careful to get your timing right when schedules are complex and there is a lot of uncertainty. Assume things will take longer than you imagine will be the case.

6. Watch for potential traps

The trap of escalating commitment is when you get so deeply into a particular approach that you just can't let go of it--even after it's been shown to be the wrong one. Keep your ego at bay--when an avenue turns into a dead end, then don't hesitate to let it go and find another.

7. Build resilience

You can't let failure slow you down--the faster you fail, learn lessons, and experiment again, the faster you'll find the solutions you are looking for. Practice failing fast--and then bouncing back just as quickly to try again.

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