18 Oct 2023

How failing well can lead to important discoveries

From Afternoons, 3:10 pm on 18 October 2023

Failure happens. It's not a glitch, but an inevitable part of life.

But most of us fail to learn from failure, letting fear and shame get in the way, says Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmondson.

American writer and academic Amy Edmondson

American writer and academic Amy Edmondson Photo: Evgenia Eliseeva

She shares groundbreaking research about the different types of failure and how coming up short reminds us that we are human and fallible.

Rather than being something to beat ourselves up about, missteps can lead to important discoveries, Edmondson argues in her new book Right Kind of Wrong.

One of Jesse Mulligan's favourite interviews of 2023:

"I loved Amy Edmondson talking about failure. She reckons we should treat work (and life) like a science lab, where we plan for failure as part of the discovery process. She's very good on the difference between failures (good) and mistakes (bad) and shared a great anecdote of a breakthrough moment for her - when an experiment she'd designed to demonstrate how better-organised teams make fewer errors showed up the opposite. (It turns out better-organised teams are just more honest about reporting their errors)" - Jesse Mulligan

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