Your company needs a CFO–Chief Failure Officer

Willingness to make mistakes, trial and error, the idea comes first

To me, one of the great unknowns about Albert Einstein is the question of what he did when he was not publishing his theories.  Assuming you are not among those who read People Magazine, the average layman has probably heard of his Theory of Relativity.  Fewer still can state the theory, and only a small number of people have any idea of its implications.

So, he’s got a couple of theories to his credit.  I’ll ask again, what did he do with all of his non-theory time?

He failed; prolifically.  Einstein always began with an idea, something simple like explaining the entire universe with a single equation.  In between the idea and the equation were years of trial and error—lots of errors.

Einstein planned for failure.  If he did not fail nobody alive would know his name.

Who is in charge of failure at your firm?  Whose career hinges on making colossal failures?

Everyone in business fails.  Somebody didn’t me plan.  A large customer went elsewhere.  The new plant in China is two years late.  Joe was 1.3% over budget.  In the grand scheme of things, those failures are irrelevant, they are rounding errors, errors which over time have little impact on the bottom line.

There are two types of failures; operational—like above—and strategic.  Given the choice I’d opt for strategic failures every time.  To fail strategically means somebody is at least trying to do something.

Don’t place someone in charge of making sure everyone is on budget.  If you want to be innovative, make sure you have someone overseeing failure.

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One thought on “Your company needs a CFO–Chief Failure Officer

  1. I agree with what you said; in order to truly innovate you need to take chances and that usually means many failures before you succeed. The most successful individuals of all times (Steve Jobs, Abe Lincoln) have all failed before they finally hit the jackpot.

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