Many of life’s failures are men who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.
So many times throughout my life I have heard about people who worked in organizations that didn’t recognize that with true success also comes failure. I believe that great leaders embrace failure as a way to get better. Thomas Edison has also been quoted “we now know 1000 ways not to create a light bulb.” What a positive view! Why don’t we take that approach in other things we do?
In my time in the Army I worked for great bosses who took a similar approach. They encouraged people to try new things. What they asked in exchange was to do a risk assessment to minimize the chance of someone being hurt and to learn from each mistake and not repeat it. How that was done can be applied in any business.
The Army has a dedicated Safety Center that looks at accidents and determines ways to prevent them from happening again. Those accidents include things that happen on duty and off. The Safety Center helps leaders by providing classes and tools to mitigate risks. NOTE: If you look at the website above you will notice the slogan “Army Safe is Army Strong” which is one more example of how the employer brand is being incorporated into all elements of the Army.
The chart below depicts the Composite Risk Management Process. The hazards are identified through a series of questions relative to the task. Those tasks range from military operations to operation of a car.
After Action Reviews (AARs)
The US Army, and other military organizations, conduct operational reviews, either formal or informal, after each mission. The purpose is to identify things that went well and areas needing improvement. Typically the after action review addresses key topics using a format of Action, Discussion and Recommendation. Someone has even developed an iPhone App using the Army process for conducting AARs.
Innovation does not come without a price and sometimes that price is failure to achieve the end result. True leaders recognize that we can learn as much or even more from failure as we do from success. Imagine the following were a resume. Would you hire this person? Would
Defeated for state legislature
|Elected company captain of Illinois militia in Black Hawk War|
|1833||Failed in business||Appointed postmaster of New Salem, Illinois
Appointed deputy surveyor of Sangamon County
|1834||Elected to Illinois state legislature|
|1836||Had nervous breakdown||Re-elected to Illinois state legislature (running first in his district)
Received license to practice law in Illinois state courts
|1837||Led Whig delegation in moving Illinois state capital from Vandalia to Springfield
Became law partner of John T. Stuart
|1838||Defeated for Speaker||Nominated for Illinois House Speaker by Whig caucus
Re-elected to Illinois House (running first in his district)
Served as Whig floor leader
|1839||Chosen presidential elector by first Whig convention
Admitted to practice law in U.S. Circuit Court
|1840||Argues first case before Illinois Supreme Court
Re-elected to Illinois state legislature
|1841||Established new law practice with Stephen T. Logan|
|1842||Admitted to practice law in U.S. District Court|
|1843||Defeated for nomination for Congress|
|1844||Established own law practice with William H. Herndon as junior partner|
|1846||Elected to Congress|
|1848||Lost renomination||(Chose not to run for Congress, abiding by rule of rotation among Whigs.)|
|1849||Rejected for land officer||Admitted to practice law in U.S. Supreme Court
Declined appointment as secretary and then as governor of Oregon Territory
|1854||Defeated for U.S. Senate||Elected to Illinois state legislature (but declined seat to run for U.S. Senate)|
|1856||Defeated for nomination for Vice President|
|1858||Again defeated for U.S. Senate|
In 1860, Abraham Lincoln won the election to become President of the United States and the rest is history.