Friday, March 27, 2009

Green Light: The Freedom to Fail

I just finished talking to a Toronto entrepreneur in a fairly traditional industry who blew me away with his commitment to (and excitement for) reinventing his business based on changing markets and emerging customer needs.

I was most impressed by his passion for encouraging his staff to innovate. Since no one knows where their market is headed, he thinks the secret to success is to empower front-line people to take initiative and try new things every day.

He thinks it’s something more business owners should do. In his words:
“Most businesses have stopped being creative, because they're afraid to fail. Society has attached a stigma to failure. We’ve goofed. Failure is part of learning.
“We have this idea that everything has to be successful the first time. But that's not the way we learn. We fall down, we get up. We fall down, we get up. We’ve forgotten that. We’re not giving our staff permission to be creative.”
“I tell my staff, ‘I’ll support you. I’ll give you the green light. Don't be afraid to fail.”

Maybe we should start a "Green Light" campaign. Every business that believes in innovation and creativity should post a green light in their lobby. Representing the freedom to fail, so that we all may learn and succeed.

What do you think? Do we have a chance?

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