Skip to main content

Champion Bad Ideas and Celebrate Failure

If you want to support creativity in your organization, there is one enemy you need to face – fear of failure. Too often, employees are afraid to try out new ideas for fear of being punished or even fired. You need to let them know that failure is an integral part of work. There are no new ideas without failure, and without new ideas, there is no progress.

One way to promote creativity is to ask everyone to create a list of all the ideas that had been previously discussed at meetings and then rank them from good to bad. Then take the six projects on the bottom of the list and ask, “If we were restricted for the next few months to work just on these projects… How could we make them work?” This can help reverse people’s normal mental dynamics. Instead of thinking about what’s wrong with something, which triggers critical instincts, now they need to find out what’s right about something, which triggers people’s creative instincts.

How to Celebrate Failure

If people avoid suggesting bad ideas, that means they are scared of failure. And if they’re scared of failure, they probably won’t succeed. Your organization must make failure a viable option.

Failures are almost never final. You must look at all sides of a project to see if it’s really as terrible as you first feared. The good thing is that if you’re paying attention, you can learn a lot from failure. People who are scared of failure – and scared of talking about it – will miss out on all the valuable data that they can get from trying something different.

By accepting failure as a normal part of your business, you free your employees of the constant worry that if they do something wrong, they’ll be punished. Fear of failure leads to an organization that refuses every new idea. Of course, there’s a good and a bad way to fail. Failure can be useful, but too many failures can cause you to fail forever. Unless you can willing to take a chance and have a good reason for it, never put more than a small part of your assets on one idea. That way, a project can be a complete failure, while still allowing you to survive and gather a great deal of valuable data.

Skunk It Up

As organizations grow, they also tend to increase in terms of logistics, paperwork, and hierarchies. At the same time, they lose in terms of creativity and originality. One way to avoid this rigidity is to branch off and make a subsidiary location. Rent another office and let people work away from the stagnation and bureaucracy.

For example, in the 1940s, aerospace company Lockheed made a special branch and named it Skunk Works. It was hugely successful, and the name stuck.

Today, the term describes any group in an organization that has a high degree of autonomy and whose job is to work on secret or advanced projects.

Discover the best way to promote a creative organization, consistently connect with your leadership team, and predictably turn them into highly engaged employees. Call me for some complimentary advice. Book an appointment at or call me at +1 (604) 943-0800.

Leave a Reply

For security, use of Google's reCAPTCHA service is required which is subject to the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.


Inscape Consulting Group
Greg Nichvalodoff, BSc. BM (Honors), MBA, PCC, CMC
Office: 604.943.0800
Mobile: 604.831.4734