Book With Quote That Reads Failure Is Not The Opposite Of Success, It's Part Of It.

Why “I Could Be Totally Wrong” Has The Power To Drive Innovation

VP of Customer Success Chrisy WollBy Chrisy Woll

I always love hearing about work environments that embrace innovation and creativity. The hardest part of adopting an innovative culture? Building an environment that is forgiving of failures. In an interview, Jay Z said “You learn more in failure than you ever do in success.” I love that quote. He noted that he’s not completely sure how people learn from success; that only in failure do we take time to figure out what went wrong, and then take steps to change.

Success Is Great, Failure Is Powerful  

Think about the last time you had a really serious meeting about why you were successful at something.  I’ll wait. Now think about the last time you had a serious meeting about why something failed. I’ll bet that example was easier to think of.

I Could Be Totally Wrong…

A few things I love about the environment at CampusLogic: we’re open to new ideas, and we’re okay with being wrong. Oftentimes, before a CampusLogic colleague shares his or her idea, I’ll hear: “I could be totally wrong, but here’s an idea …” Seems like a pretty simple phrase, right? It’s powerful, because it acknowledges that:

I May Be Totally Wrong

Starting with those words takes the ego out of the idea you are about to present. It also gives others the freedom to chime in with why they love the idea, or reasons they think the idea won’t work. It’s a humbling statement, too. One that admits you may not have all the information, but you think it’s worth discussing. Saying “I may be totally wrong” encourages others to share insights you may not be aware of.

The Speaker Feels Safe

It is important when idea sharing begins that it doesn’t become a negative session on everything that is wrong. Starting with “I may be wrong,” sets up the discussion as a starting point to drive to a solution. I would rather hear a lot of people giving ideas that might not work, for one reason or another, than have no one feel safe enough to share their ideas.

Everyone Has A Voice

At CampusLogic, we embrace ideas from everyone—no matter your title, how long you’ve been a customer, etc. We love feedback and ideas on how we can be better, do better. I love when a customer calls and takes the time to give us feedback, even hard feedback. It all helps us improve. Everyone has a different perspective, and that is the awesome thing about getting ideas and feedback from a lot of different people.

Unintentional Becomes Intentional

This very simple phrase became a technique we unintentionally used at CampusLogic. The reason I say it was unintentional: we didn’t sit down and decide as a team that we would all start using this phrase to encourage idea sharing. It happened naturally, and when we realized it worked for us we decided to keep using it. Look around your own office for intentional and unintentional things that spread innovation and foster idea sharing. Try not to get stuck on a fear of failure or being wrong—it’s a fun part of innovation, and it’s how we learn the most, right?

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