kHUB All Member Forum

Discussion Thread View
Expand all | Collapse all

Post-Failure Success

  • 1.  Post-Failure Success

    Posted 11-13-2020 14:00

    What has been your experience dealing with a project that has failed? More importantly, how were you able to bounce back from it?

    There’s a lot of insight that can be gained from hearing stories of failure, especially when it comes to the lessons learned. As such, the JPIM article “Post‐Failure Success: Sensemaking in Problem Representation Reformulation” piqued my interest. The authors discuss the critical nature of prospective sensemaking as well as the value of leadership change behavior. Rather than falling into the temptation of skipping to a solution or dwelling on old assumptions when faced with failure, innovative teams engage in prospective sensemaking. This process involves redefining the problem by analyzing new assumptions and expectations of future events. Making the leap from purely retrospective sensemaking to prospective sensemaking requires leadership change behaviors such as risk-taking and the promotion of innovative thinking. This type of approach enables setbacks to transform into successful, innovative solutions.

    https://community.pdma.org/knowledgehub/bok/culture-organization/post-failure-success



    ------------------------------
    Gabriela Pinotti
    Graduate Research Assistant
    Oakland University
    ------------------------------


  • 2.  RE: Post-Failure Success

    Posted 11-15-2020 17:02
    Thank you, Gabi for initiating this discussion thread!
    Post-Failure Success is a critical mindset for an organization's survival.  PDMA's OCI award winners typically have shown strength here in order to qualify and show evidence of the award criteria: 
    • Sustained success in launching new products over a five-year time frame.

    • Significant company growth from new products.

    • Well defined new product development practices and processes that can be described to others.

    • Distinctive innovative characteristics and intangibles.
    As a long time innovation practitioner, I've been involved in many successful innovation projects as well as many "failures".  The more successful organizations include a Lessons Learned review after every project, whether it was considered a success or a failure, thus building a culture of learning and honesty.  The practice of gathering team members for a "Stop, Start, Continue" review that is shared with upper management, other project teams, and included in the project documentation paves the way for the deeper level of redefining the problem by analyzing new assumptions and expectations of future events as you describe.  Moving on to sensemaking requires an open, honest, innovative management team.  

    ------------------------------
    [Sue] [Burek] [NPDP]
    [kHUB Administrator]
    [PDMA]
    [Huntersville] [NC]
    [585-314-4611]
    ------------------------------



  • 3.  RE: Post-Failure Success

    Posted 11-16-2020 06:52
    I concur with Sue's call for a "Lessons Learned" review after any project that is formally established (i.e., has entered the phase-gate process).  A project that exits the phase-gate process prior to launch really isn't a "failure", as that's the purpose of the phase-gate process.  A "Lessons Learned" review is still valuable, however.

    In the case of a true product launch failure, especially one with a significant negative business impact, I would recommend something more deliberate than an informal "Lessons Learned" review.  For example, have an experienced facilitator (not associated with the project) develop a project review discussion guide and conduct individual interviews with each of the functional leaders of the project (and other project team members as appropriate).  Then, have a facilitated problem solving session to share findings, identify problems to be addressed, conduct a deep dive on "why" for each, and formulate best practices to be piloted on current and future projects. It's highly unlikely the team would be able to do this work on their own on high profile failures.

    ------------------------------
    Wayne Fisher
    Innovation Guide
    Rockdale Innovation LLC
    Cincinnati OH
    513-708-2492
    ------------------------------



  • 4.  RE: Post-Failure Success

    Posted 11-17-2020 09:49
    Hmm..the term "sensemaking" is interesting and also piqued my interest. Mistakes happen, but I believe they only become failures when we fail to learn from them. Typically, projects (and products) don't fail to meet objectives from one issue or problem. What I often see is the inability to sense the impact of defects, issues, problems, or risks and the lack of timely resolution. If you can't sense the impact, then you may not focus resources on the issue and/or take the time to explore the underlying problems. This takes time, which seems to be in ever shorter supply. The lessons we learn need to be minimally captured using episodic approaches like post-mortems on project and lifecycle stages. Ideally, we need to find ways to move these learning opportunities into the mainstream of all processes so they become more real-time.

    The challenge is to build in the discipline of continuous learning in our processes and our culture. This applies to all organizations, institutions, and individuals. Trying to understand a problem requires patience and oftentimes an ability to "unlearn" so that we remove biases when examining a problem. Most problems are actually issues that are not well understood so we end up addressing the issue but not the underlying problem(s) that caused the issue to occur. This is time-consuming and often relegated to only those issues that appear as urgent or significantly impactful. Getting to the root cause for issues allows us to gain a sense about what is really going on and allows us to apply first principles to reimagine one or more solutions to resolve or possibly apply innovation to create opportunity.

    Sensing is actually a discipline within complexity theory and we are just beginning to discuss this in organizations and the design of products, services, and processes. As data and complexity continue to grow exponentially, the need for building sensory models around change needs to mature with both models and technology. When we encounter a problem, we need to find ways to apply the discipline of continuous learning into the emerging topology of sensory capabilities within and between products, systems, and organizations. Over time, we will develop recursive learning to accelerate our ability to respond and adapt. As patterns of learning emerge, they can be instantiated as synaptic responses to accelerate response time and overall agility.

    More work to do, but the recognition of sensemaking in problem representation opens the door for many exciting possibilities.

    ------------------------------
    Jeffrey Wallk
    Management Consultant
    The Value Enablement Group, LLC
    Deerfield IL
    847-847-261-4332
    ------------------------------



  • 5.  RE: Post-Failure Success

    Posted 11-19-2020 14:41
    I just ran across this blog post with an interesting perspective on failure
    WHAT THE ROOMBA TEACHES US ABOUT PUSHING THROUGH FEAR OF FAILURE

    What if we were to treat failure as a roomba, or other "machine" does.  Machine learning uses that concept at its core, of course.
    How can we apply it to our personal, team, and company initiatives of innovation and disruptions?
    The key, according to the referenced blog post is to focus only on solving the problem, "whether it's cleaning crumbs under the couch or curing cancer"
    The referenced JPIM article in this discussion thread suggests the team needs to redefine the problem and not go directly to the solution or dwelling on old assumptions, and takes the Roomba lesson to the next level with sensemaking

    ------------------------------
    [Sue] [Burek] [NPDP]
    [kHUB Administrator]
    [PDMA]
    [Huntersville] [NC]
    [585-314-4611]
    ------------------------------



  • 6.  RE: Post-Failure Success

    Posted 04-14-2021 19:11
    Hi Gabriela!

    I found this post really interesting and was able to relate it back to a class assignment at OU. We dug deeper into the innovation behind Dyson and how the empire was built and became a household name. One thing that James Dyson is remembered for, is valuing his failures. He took any type of failure and used it as power to excel forward and to try to not make the same mistakes. I think that embracing failure and even slightly encouraging it can be beneficial to teams and organizations so that they can bounce back with lessons learned rather than scolded for failing. Although failure is not ideal, it has been proven to create room for future success. Check out this article from HBR: https://hbr.org/2011/04/why-leaders-dont-learn-from-success

    Best,

    Madison Faculak
    MBA Student at OU

    ------------------------------
    Madison Faculak
    Oakland University
    Holly
    8108775415
    ------------------------------