There Are Lessons in Success, Not Just Failure

There Are Lessons in Success, Not Just Failure

Companies usually try to understand failure, but what could they learn from analyzing their successes, too?

“Success is going from one failure to another without loss of enthusiasm.” Winston Churchill

Failure is said to be inevitable, and we all know it to be true. Any new venture is built on the hope of success. But accepting and managing failure is key to actually obtaining success.

Companies have a responsibility to ask the tough questions when things go awry. We have all been in these meetings: we diagnose failures, and we dissect the process, tools and staff involved to get to the root of the problem. Unfortunately, most companies only step back and really dive into what happened when something bad happens.

But what if companies took the same approach when something went right?

Focusing on the lessons in success

Companies are all a work in process. We learn as we go, and that learning should include understanding our successes. Shifting the focus from ‘what went wrong’ to ‘what went right’ creates a foundation for being able to recreate success in your organization.

Identifying and analyzing the components of a successful process can be the first step in moving into this new mindset. Paul Michelman, editor in chief of the MIT Sloan Management Review, experimented with dissecting his the publication’s successes and quickly discovered that their best processes start with transparency. Michelman wrote:

We plan a pipeline of content that is stored in a document accessible by the key participants. We track each content item’s progress on a shared project management platform. The few times we encounter bumps, a lack of information sharing is almost always at fault.

Though Michelman admits his research is unscientific, the key factors he has identified in their success stories has helped his business focus on what’s working, instead of waiting to dissect failure.

Technology can help

In today’s world, there is no end to the amount of data you can collect on your business. Your company’s digital presence is an easy place to start.

Tools like Google Analytics can give you advanced insight into how prospects are interacting with your company online. You can analyze how people are finding your business, and how they’re moving through your website all the way to making purchases. In other words, you can begin to analyze all of the little successes that make your business turn. How can you replicate that success on new projects and processes?

When things are going well, most companies don’t see the need to reflect on what happened, what went right. But don’t let this opportunity slip by. You should examine failures, but you should also look closely at successes. Take the time to brainstorm with your team on what you’re doing well and how you can keep up that success while you plan for future growth. —

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