A few failed projects makes a better team
You’re looking at a few possible new team members to augment your team. Who would you rather have on your team, someone who always had successful projects or someone who had a few less successful (or even failed) projects? A lot of people would choose someone with the winning track records, but I’m going to challenge that idea. I believe that your best bet is picking someone who knows the value of learning from failure. I think the best team members are the people who have been on some projects that went sideways.
Were all those projects truly successful?
Let’s face it, no one has a perfect record at work or in life. Anyone who claims differently is not being truly honest with you (or themselves). Seeing only the successful projects could also mean the person is only cherry picking the best of the best and not giving a true picture of their experience. Either way, no one bats a thousand all the time.
Failed projects show taking risks
If you always take the easy projects, the ones that are sure-fire wins, are you challenging yourself? Are you pushing your skills? Are you truly growing as a professional? Probably not. A project that went pear shaped shows a person who is willing to take on a challenge. Even if the challenge isn’t always going to lead to success.
The best people learn from failure
Some of the most spectacular failures lead to amazing innovations down the road. The best people on your team are the people who took past mistakes and turned them into present knowledge. More that “gee I’m not going to do that again…” failure brings a deeper understanding of what it takes to be successful.
Dealing with failure is important
You get a true sense of a person when stuff hits the fan and a project is going completely sideways. How people deal with failure is one of those skills you can only develop by going through it. It’s also a crucial life skill to master. Things will go wrong. Things happen. A seasoned team knows how to prevent failure, but also brush off and move on when it happens. Team members who have dealt with failure (and dealt well) are an asset to your team-they are the people you can count on in a pinch.
Would you list your less successful projects?
But here’s the big question-do any of us really put the less successful parts of our experience out there for the world to see? I’d wager that there aren’t many people who list completely failed projects on their project history. I think that might be a loss for everyone, I think we might be better and more successful if we did list the projects that failed and include what we learned from that experience.
Maybe I’m crazy, but I think we could benefit from examining our failed projects. You?
Photo from Flickr by Tomasz Stasiuk under Creative Commons license
Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com on December 31, 2014.