Failure Tolerance – how to encourage your employees to innovate

wazoku Blog

Thomas Watson, IBM’s famous chairman and CEO, once said “The fastest way to succeed is to double your failure rate”. Many managers still agree. Do you?

Failure should be a prerequisite to innovation, but a lot of managers still struggle to understand this and thus too many employees see failure as something bad. Have you ever wondered whether your employees feel entitled to take risks while looking for innovations, or simply feel like they must maintain the status quo?

A business can’t develop a breakthrough product or process unless it’s willing to encourage risk taking and learn from subsequent mistakes. A culture of intelligent risk taking should be developed in order to prompt sustained innovation. It’s hardly imaginable to innovate whilst remaining within the comfort zone; the only way is to explore, venture and try new approaches. But leaving the comfort zone carries some unavoidable risks and those employees who do it should be encouraged and properly supported.

According to a 2002 study,  failure-tolerant managers show interest and express support to their employees, consistently asking them what they are working on. They also interpret, more than analysing with stiff frameworks and earn empathy simply admitting their mistakes instead of covering them up. Failure-tolerant managers also seek to defeat personal competition in favour of collaboration, in order for their staff to feel more motivated than scared.

The last step is to develop a proper platform where ideas can be shared, discussed and evaluated. Such a tool should be accurately structured to fit the organisation’s needs and should also be able to store all the ideas, so that they can be recollected when necessary. A co-creation platform is a highly flexible and social tool that allows you to build secure communities for innovation, in order to collect different ideas and harness the creativity within your company.

Feel like you want to know more? Check our idea management guide, to see how you can help you grasp the creativity within your company and use it to innovate, by clicking the button below.