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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Business Creates ‘Failure Wall’ To Learn From Mistakes

Instructions for the Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp. "Failure Wall." (Courtesy of Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp.)

Instructions for the Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp. "Failure Wall." "Describe a time when you failed, write down what you learned, print and sign your name. If you're an employee, use a blue marker. If you're a partner... green...A visitor... orange." (Courtesy of Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp.)

Apple Founder Steve Jobs is remembered for the way that he rose back up from failures. It worked pretty well for Jobs, and now businessman Jeff Stibel is betting on failure to help him succeed too.

Stibel is is the chairman and CEO of Dun and Bradstreet Credibility Corp, a private company that provides credit services to businesses.

He created a “Wall Of Failure” where employees can acknowledge past failures, and what they’ve learned as a result.

“We created the opportunity to cherish failure. We took the biggest wall we have in our office and we made it a failure wall and we put a bunch of well-known quotes and then we added some of our own,” Stibel told Here & Now‘s Robin Young.

The wall includes one of Stibel’s largest business failures.

“My biggest one [failure] was that I had an opportunity to sell my first company to a little-known company called Google at the time. That was one of many,” he said.

What are your past failures? We invite you to post on our very own Failure Wall. Describe a failure, and what you learned as a result in the dialog box below.

Wall Of Failure

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Kelly

    do typos count? You left out the first “wall” in this sentence (after “biggest”): We took the biggest we have in our office and we made it a failure wall and we put a bunch of well-known quotes and then we added some of our own. (or maybe Stibel did?)

    • Jryan Bur

      Thanks Kelly, I think typos should count! Which unfortunately means I have a lot of postings to do on the wall… But the one you reference was Stibel’s quote. -Jill Ryan, H&N

  • girlwithheart

    My biggest mistake was to listen to my parents when I graduated from High School.  I was accepted to an Ivy league college but my parents did not have the money and did no allow me to move away from home. I was uninspired and felt lost at my home state university and did poorly. Despite getting a Masters later, and being a smart, creative girl….30 years later,  I continue to be under-employed.  
    I wonder if taking a first independent  step at 18 would have changed my life? Since then however, I listen to that inner “self”-ish voice, despite what others say so I can take full responsibility for my decisions.

  • Joannee

    I think we shouldn’t be focusing on past failures. We need to let go of the past, and not worry about the future, but be mindful of this very moment. This allows us to be fully present with what life offers us each moment.

  • Kneoknutts

    If we allow ourselves to consider to possibility that all learning comes as a result of failure, then the stigma becomes less pervasive.  When an endeavor succeeds upon the first trial, the most likely cause is pure luck. Even when well researched,  projects often encounter disruptions that cause the participants to tweak the variables in order to produce the desired results. This is in essence the learning process. But it is not the process that is revered,  it’s the results. We talk about who won the game, not how well it was played. The competitive mentality causes one to focus on the adulation resulting from success; learning is a travail that often knows no end, and receives few accolades.

  • Guest

    I agree with Kneoknutts – maybe we shouldn’t call them failures, but attempts? ;-)  

  • Ben S

    As was suggested below, we should honor the process over individual results, and honor long-term success over short-term success.

  • Steiner on Failure

    You should always treat failure as an opportunity to learn – but if you fail in a corporate or other institutional environment, make sure the organization supplies a safety net and is open to an honest discussion about your failure(s) before spilling your guts out…

    If you are interested in understanding failure better, here are some great options:

    The Anatomy of Failure group on Linkedin – http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Anatomy-Failure-4658618?trk=my_groups-b-grp-v

    On Twitter – Steiner on Failure – follow @stnr_on_failure

    On Pinterest – for images and videos mostly – http://www.pinterest.com/ragingacademic/the-anatomy-of-failure/

    The Blog – http://failure2point0.blogspot.co.il/

    See you there!!

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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