Is your organization culture au fait with ‘Fail Fast’?

Microsoft launched a Twitter bot ‘Tay’ to experiment with how AI communicates with humans in real world, real time situations. Things took a vicious turn, though, when hackers caused ‘Tay’ to begin spewing racist and profane messages.
The Result? ‘Tay’ was shut down in just 16 hours of operation followed by an official apology from Microsoft.
If you were a team member who would have worked on it, you would be crestfallen and expected a rebuke.
Instead team was pleasantly surprised to hear from none other than, Satya Nadella.
“Keep pushing, and know that I am with you … The key is to keep learning and improving.”We all make mistakes. The question is, how can you help your team recover from those failures? In the interview later, he went on to explain the reasoning behind his encouraging tone:
“It’s so critical for leaders not to freak people out, but to give them air cover to solve the real problem. If people are doing things out of fear, it’s hard or impossible to actually drive any innovation.”

Last week, I was engaged with an tech startup in their product discovery. We were evaluating the results from a prototype to prove an assumption. CTO replied, “We have failed fast in this experiment and need to pivot accordingly.” It made be sit up and take notice, “Did you as a team fail fast or learn fast?” Team replied in affirmative towards the later and said, “We are not live yet with this experiment, so we have learned fast with the prototype about the behavior of our customers. It is an observed experience that materially changes our way forward.”

Most organizations are being disrupted by innovation not because of lack of ideas, bright people, processes or tools but because everything is viewed with the lens of success or failure in their organization culture. Success is rewarded while failure is punished. Can you break the shackles of “right” or “wrong”? Instead, spread a culture of learning in your organization.
As Leaders, Help Reboot your teams towards a Learn Fast lane.

Reading is not only informed by what’s going on with us at that moment, but also governed by how our eyes and brains work to process information. What you see and what you’re experiencing as you read these words is quite different.

Jason Santa Maria