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'...But I Fail Fast!'


I recently spoke with an innovation leader who is one of my pilot partners. He was just selected to guide a fairly mature initiative and shared with me two very moving questions.


The first: How could he encourage his team to passionately advance the initiative to market — but, if needed, be ready to stop it with equal passion? The second: How could he put ‘Great at failing fast’ on his resume?


His senior leader sponsor is an excellent innovation executive role model, so I recommended that we bring him into the “first question” discussion as soon as possible. Without that leader’s help establishing the right context — one in which “win” is clearly defined (and rewarded) by efficiently achieving the optimal initiative outcome (whether it’s commercialization or not) — I know we’ll struggle to be successful.


Unfortunately, I didn’t have a great response to his second question. Senior leaders should want to hire people who carefully invest an organization’s finite resources by failing fast when appropriate. In this case, I’m confident that his sponsor will create a great career path for him — but, in the event he decides to move on, he’ll need to find a new opportunity created by a similarly strong role model.


I’d love to have other ideas. How do you put “Fails fast” on a resume?