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Here’s to Failure!

Nobody wants to fail.

Yet we inherently know that without taking risks – without risking exactly the failure we fear so much – the big successes are likely to remain out of reach.

Recently I was with a Broadway theater producer – someone who has produced famous shows you know quite well – and he said something that, while not surprising, was important and interesting:

“The biggest hits go to those who have the biggest failures.”

And he should know.

This is not to suggest that we need to bet the farm on our hunches – that’s a sure way to the poor house.  But it’s certainly true that a culture of experimentation – a practice of placing frequent smallish bets and allocating the time and money to nurture them – is not simply an optional luxury; it is the only path to a hit.

So how do you instill this notion in your company?

Do you have a requirement and an expectation for experimentation and an appetite for the learning that comes from failure?

Product people could ask “how can we improve the consumer’s entertainment experience across our various platforms with something unique and fresh today?” or “What can we develop in the next six months that will surprise and delight our consumers?”

Sellers could ask “what problems can we solve for our clients across platforms in ways that we didn’t solve them yesterday and in ways that other media companies won’t or can’t solve them?”

And managers could ask “are we structured for a world of limitless media alternatives, or are we built like a radio station from 1989?”

If the biggest hits go to those with the biggest failures, then how do you hope to fail today?

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