Failing Forward

4 years ago by in Featured Articles, Leadership, Marketing, Social Media Tagged: , , , ,

Are you failing enough?

It’s a question most in the corporate social business environment probably don’t ask themselves enough. After all, the fight for budget dollars, relevance and a place at the table don’t come easy. How could someone want to fail?

The reality is failing is a big part of life and for the social business strategist, it’s a must for success.

Being a lover of baseball, failure is as important as success in this thinking-mans game. In fact, two of the best hitters of the modern era – Ted Williams and Tony Gwynn – both regularly talked about how much they learned from failure. When you’re a first ballot Hall of Famer and you only succeed 30-40% of the time, you have to get comfortable with failure and learn from it.

I came across a Harvard Business Review Blog video post which included an interview with former Trader Joe’s President Doug Rauch. Entitled “Failing to Success,” his insight into how he expected his buyers to fail their way to success is brilliant. It’s how managers in today’s society should think.

In my estimation, and through my experience working with several big brands and consulting clients, the fear of failure is still paralyzing for many organizations. As such, many of my brothers and sisters establishing a social business beachhead are saddled with the direction they cannot fail. Besides being unrealistic, failing in a new medium – especially at a time when brands are still learning about what their customers want from them in social and mobile – is a an imperative for all of us.

We might not have the luxury Williams or Gwynn had (60-70% failure rate may be too high for corporate environments) but we must experiment and devote part of our budget towards experimentation and social learning.

If not, we’re doomed to fail completely.

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2 Responses to “Failing Forward”


Mike Driehorst
July 24, 2012

"As such, many of my brothers and sisters establishing a social business beachhead are saddled with the direction they cannot fail."

I would guess (based on my gut and own experiences), that since social media marketing still is relatively new, those striking out in the relatively new direction want early successes on which to build upon as the rationalization for why communications needs to adapt.

So there's almost a paralyzing and neurotic prep process to ensure it's right and it works. That helps slow the growth and delays eventual success.

I would hope most places are not that afraid of change (and am glad my direct boss that he extremely open to ideas).

Scott Gulbransen
July 24, 2012

Good point Mike. I think you have to put early wins on the board but also need to push and innovate even if those aren't always a big success.

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