From blog posts and articles to event banners and office posters, we're constantly being told to "fail fast." Well, count this as the one article against the practice. 

Failure is inevitable when we're experimenting and trying to innovate, and that shouldn't discourage anyone from continuing to try. However, what matters most is how we fail. Instead of failing as fast as possible, focus on continuous learning.

To build your "failing well" muscle, start by learning from small experiments incorporated into your work and personal life. 

1. Inject new life into your team.

It's easy to understand why experimentation is necessary if a team is disorganized and churning out lame ideas. But trying new things is equally important for high-performing teams because they often stagnate, going back to the same good idea time after time. 

Experiment with new ways of soliciting peer feedback to see if it improves the quality of conversations and leads to more creative solutions. Kick off new projects with pre-mortems so you can identify problems while you still have a chance to avoid them.

2. Shake up your 9-to-5.

You have it down to a science: a steaming cup of coffee at 9 a.m., a quick scan of the news and then off to clear your email backlog by 9:15. Switch up your routine and find what helps you get your best work done.

Try doing deep work as soon you walk in the door. Is there a meeting you dread because you never have anything to contribute? Skip it and see what happens.

You may learn that you focus best during morning lulls or that complete silence is awful for your productivity. You may realize that it's actually not necessary for you to attend the dreaded meeting and get an hour of your day back.  

3. Try something new at home.

Creative thinking isn't confined to work. Take your family meetings one step further and parent your children the same way you run your team at work for a week or two. Maybe it's the key to bringing a little harmony to your household chaos. (Or maybe it'll be miserable--only one way to find out!).

If you feel as though you never have enough energy after work, move your 8 p.m. workout to right after work and see if that gives you an energy boost. Transform your soul-sucking commute by biking or carpooling to work. 

Failing well

Innovation doesn't come from "fail fast" posters, whiteboards, or innovation committees. It comes from a relentless drive to keep trying and trying again and learning from everything that didn't work.

It also doesn't stop with one successful idea. Creativity and the capacity to build great things exist in everyone as long as they are willing to experiment and grow from their failures. 

With editorial contribution from Tanaz Ahmed.

Published on: Jan 12, 2018