Failure

I had a unique opportunity to fail this week. :-).

I developed a new instructor lead training course and conducted a BETA (trial run) for the new content. BETA’s can be very challenging for an instructional designer. You certainly need to have thick skin if you hope to endure the BETA process. The process is filled with criticism of your ideas and hard work. Though challenging, the BETA is critical if you want to deliver a top-notch training product. Essentially, you need to fail in BETA or your final roll out will be a failure.

Failure comes in many flavors. This particular flavor of #FAIL, was particularly frustrating. Several of the concepts presented in training did not mesh with the client’s expectations. So the entire day was spent muddling though a quagmire of confusion. In hindsight there were specific questions that I could have asked; the answers to those questions would have helped clarify expectations and avoid confusion. I wasn’t frustrated by the failure, my frustration was with the cause. I should have known better based on my experiences in sales, business, training and leadership. Effective questions lead to effective solutions. Effective questions can be evaluated based on the quantity and quality of information collected. I didn’t ask the right questions. As a result, my solution wasn’t effective.

In some ways, I’m glad I failed. Weird right? Don’t get me wrong, IT SUCKED! However, failure is always an opportunity. Specifically failure provides and opportunity to grow. In fact failure provides each of us with three unique opportunities:

  1. Process
    • Do I have a process in place to mitigate failure?
    • If so, why and where did my process fail?
    • What else could I have done to avoid this failure?
    • Can I build those actions into my process?
    • Are there other weak-points in my process?
  2. People
    • Who was let down?
    • How am I addressing and communicating the failure to them?
    • How am I going to make it right?
    • Who failed?
    • Was I the only person who failed?
    • Why did they fail?
    • Did I play a role in their failure (lack of training, oversight, expectations, etc.).
    • How can develop my skills and the skills of others to prevent future failure?
  3. Perspective
    • How am I going to view this failure moving forward?
    • Did I gain varying perspectives when developing the solution?
    • Did I consider the RIGHT perspectives?
    • How should I modify my approach to deliver better results?

From this recent failure, I learned:

  1. I did not build enough questions into my process around manager/employee interactions.
  2. I made assumptions the lead to false conclusions. I should have addressed those assumptions with key leaders.
  3. I did not consider the employee perspective enough when evaluating my solution.
  4. I’ve improved my process and modified my approach. The changes will lead to a more in-depth review of “involved parties” and addressing all assumptions early in the process.
  5. While addressing the failure with the primary decision maker, we were able to find a better solution that would be more streamlined AND cost effective as a result of the improved approach.

We’ll be moving forward with a new BETA shortly. This time I think I will skip the failure. ;-).

Rise Above!

-Dave

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