Saturday, September 8, 2007

Schooling - R50,000. University education - R100,000. Failure - priceless.

Fail faster. Succeed sooner. [from Tom Peters - Reimagine]

Let that one sink in a bit.

Fail faster.

Succeed sooner.

Just beautiful. If only we understood it. I mean really got it. Can you imagine? World-beating innovation; rock bottom unemployment levels; double digit GDP growth. In South Africa???

I think some people do get the idea, for example: Justin Hartman; Vinny Lingham; Ideate; Eve Dmochowska; Adii [and those mentioned here]; and Tycoon [and these mentions too]. Mark Shuttleworth also took the entire concept a step forward with HBD, and only time [and Vinny] will tell just how this will play out.

Pity the banks don't get it. Government either. Or even our local experts - the VC funders.

Perhaps I'm being too harsh?

How can we only start businesses or lend money on the back of guaranteed [or at least 99.9% certain] success? After all, you can't score a touchdown sitting on the sidelines.

As a society I firmly believe we [including myself] need to take more risks. Back the players! And those who want to play and are willing to get out on the field.

The true failure will come in not realising that the current way of doing things doesn't work... and not taking any action to correct it. Surely we [SA] can fix this without selling ourselves up the river?

Unforunately this reality of avoiding mistakes permeates our entire culture - not only is it highly evident in our entrepreneurial blueprint [as painfully described above] but its also crystal clear in existing organisations -

How come when an employee makes a mistake [lets assume its a fairly big one] they are so often dismissed? Please can anybody tell me - why on earth get rid of someone who now has incredibly important experience, just so that you can bring in someone new and inexperienced?

Two reasons for my question:

1. Who do you think is more likely to make that same mistake in the future? My money says it won't be the guy who already did it.
2. At least he tried something. Failure to act is far worse than failing as a result of action. And what the organisation learns from that failure could be unbelievably valuable.

Sorry, but this looks like a no-brainer to me. And this we can change!

As Michael Jordan [one of the most successful athletes ever] says: "I can accept failure. Everyone fails at something. But I can't accept not trying."

[Title inspired by MasterCard's entertaining "Priceless" ad campaign]

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