How to fail forward, learn and grow

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At our All Staff events, we are used to hearing quotes or thoughts from some of the historical greats; Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein or Thomas Edison. So, when our Service Delivery Director, Chris Hodgson, started off his presentation with the wise words of Winston, an AI computer in the latest Dan Brown novel, what surprised me was how the words rang true and so completely false in the same breath. I’ll share the quote below when Winston explains the difference with computers and humans:

“I can fail billions of times with no trace of frustration. I embark on my billionth attempt at solving a problem with the same energy as my first. Humans cannot do that.”

I agreed, failure affects humans. It demotivates us. It stops us wanting to put ourselves out there, get out of our comfort zones and try. Is it a natural trait for humans to give up, or at least not try as hard next time, if we fail? I then thought of my children. Try telling that to a toddler! If it were true a baby would never crawl, walk or FINALLY get that damn triangle into that shape sorter. Some 4 year olds are the best negotiators I know! Children are relentless at learning, pushing boundaries and trying new things, but somewhere on our journey into adulthood we learn that:

Taking risks = danger

Failing = feelings of inadequacy

And so, we avoid risks and the fear of failure can stop us even trying.

Why is that a bad thing?

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” Henry Ford.

As both people and businesses, we need to innovate, learn and change. Some technologies that were cutting edge in the noughties are no longer relevant today, skills that I needed when I started my first job aren’t needed anymore. Innovate or die can be quite literal for businesses and our careers. So, what did we learn? Getting out of our comfort zone is a GOOD THING. It may be unnerving but that is where we learn and grow. And its ok to fail, but treat it as a learning opportunity. If we learn from a failure and fail forward, we move forward. So what does this mean for the people at ANS?

It means our organisation has a culture that fosters personal growth and career development. An environment where staff are encouraged to speak out and try new things to improve the propositions, processes and experience for themselves and our customers. With a voice that will be heard and autonomy to make improvements, our people can achieve greater satisfaction in their roles. And if first you don’t succeed, that’s OK but try, try again. More than ever, our people our greatest assets and we need to encourage, not stifle them. I guess it’s not surprising that 93% of our people are proud to work at ANS.

What does it mean for our customers? It means we are focused on continual improvement, taking our customers on the journey they need to reach their future. We’re treading the path, testing and evolving so they can benefit from both our innovation and experience. It also means we have the best people, in the best positions to deliver the best possible outcome.