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I went to my son’s kindergarten orientation this morning. One thing that one teacher mentioned during the presentation really rung true with me. In making a point about helping our 5-year old children become more independent, she recommended that parents let their kids try and not be afraid to let them fail…”because that is how they learn”. Encourage them, give them positive feedback, but don’t do it for them. If they can’t open the lunch box the first time, let them try before having the urge to help them. If they don’t know how to organize the letter cards, let them try again. And so on…

I’m sure by now you know where I’m going with this. “Fail fast and learn” is not only an important thing for kids and their parents but also for anyone in any organization or any leader/manager guiding their teams. We must allow space for ourselves and for others to fail. They should know that failure and resilience through it is how we learn and do better. I’m avoiding the temptation to use the term “innovation” because it’s not only about innovation but just about learning in general. If we embody that within ourselves and everyone we work with, that will automatically lead to innovation.

One other important point the teacher made…provide “positive feedback”. Like kids, people will only try if they know that they won’t get their hands slapped every time they mess up. Providing coaching and encouragement through each failure will build resilience and the willingness to try.

So let’s go back to basics and do what we do for our children…fail fast, provide positive feedback, and learn.


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