Failure IS an option (so prepare for it)

4 11 2015

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald

On all good teams, you should have someone who, either as assigned, by choice or by nature, plays the “devil’s advocate” position on any big decision.  They don’t have to embrace, or even believe in the position, but they need to be prepared to debate the contrary argument.  They should push back on what can go wrong with a given idea, and wholeheartedly think about all the bad things that can happen and/or what OTHER ways there are to solve the problem besides the plan on the table.  This prevents group-think, and gets people worried about what can go wrong, instead of just planning on the ideal circumstances required for success.

Leaders, remember that there’s often only one set of circumstances that lead to success, and dozens, or hundreds of ways for something to fail (or hit a set-back).  Having a team that trusts you not to fire or ridicule them when they push back on your ideas will greatly enhance the team’s chance of success… or dealing with failure, because the team thought about it happening, and planned for it!  Anyone who tells you that failure is not an option is not thinking about plan B.  Failure is always an option – be prepared to deal with it, by having a plan to overcome obstacles to success.

Speaking of Intelligence…


Rubes cartoons used with permission.




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