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Making a Splash

Making a Splash

In a previous job I was lucky enough to have a colleague, Dimis, whose expertise was helping people solve problems, and, in particular, to be creative in how they tackled problems.

He travelled the world helping organisations and individuals rethink their attitude and approach to problems. I always loved being there when Dimis met with a group for the first time and saw how they reacted to his approach.

In particular, there was always horror and incredulity expressed when Dimis referred to the mantra of fellow creativity expert Robert Sutton:

Reward success, celebrate failure and punish inaction.

Take a few moments to think about that; reward success, celebrate failure and punish inaction. I bet you can guess which part of that mantra caused the issue; there were often howls of outrage when Dimis suggested that we should “celebrate failure”.

Yet how often do we not do something simply because we are worried that we will fail? And how often is that inaction caused by the worry of what people will think of us if we do fail?

I was reminded of this the other day when watching this brilliant clip from the BBC:

There is no doubt that Mike Bushell ‘failed’ in his task of interviewing the medal winners. Yet he succeeded in creating a wonderful piece of live TV that has brought laughter to millions. 

When you watched that clip, were you laughing AT Mike Bushell? Were you thinking he was an abject failure who should be fired on the spot? Did you say to yourself, “What a plonker, he should just have done the interview the normal way”? Would you have even seen the clip if he hadn’t taken the risk?

My guess is that for most of us, the answer to all those questions will have been “no”.

What we witnessed was someone who was trying to do their job to the best standard possible; to be even better. Isn’t that something we all want, both for ourselves and our team members?

As managers, we will be more successful if we become very good at encouraging our team members to try new ways to be even better. This will only be possible if:

  1. It feels ‘safe’ to try.
  2. Your team know that their efforts will be recognised.
  3. Your people are able to learn both from success and from failure.

Leading by example is a great place to start. To encourage your people to move away from ‘inaction’ and into risking ‘failure’ why not try something different yourself, perhaps by running a team meeting in a way you’ve never tried before, using one of our activities.  

Here are a few of my favourites you could try:



April 26 2018 Frances Ferguson
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Frances Ferguson

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