“Failure” Culture

“My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.”

-Abraham Lincoln

Last week, Erika Hall from Wired magazine wrote an article that was well overdue. In the article, Erika discusses how the failure culture among startups is killing innovation. The article continues on and points out that some founders are treating their failed startups as research. The majority of the piece is focused on proper research, but we wanted to take a moment to focus in on failure culture.

Failure is not a badge of honor.

Trying hard is a badge of honor; admitting that you failed is a badge of honor; learning from your failures is a badge of honor; the fact that you failed is not. If you fail, you might as well use your failures as a learning experience, but here is something better, don’t plan on failing! Just because a failure can be spun into something positive does not mean it is okay. As Mr. Lincoln is quoted above, it is not whether you failed but if you are content with your failure. We are seeing more and more contentment with failure in today’s ecosystem, and as the article points out, we are seeing more and more planned failures – which is even worse.

Innovation doesn’t breed from meritocracy.

This ‘failure’ culture is dangerous. Not only is time, money and energy wasted but important innovations become buried. This is the type of thing that makes our skin crawl. Every company failure as a tragedy. The lost opportunities being brushed to the side are a complete waste, and while there may have been a lesson learned, there has to be a loser. Losing investors. Losing employees. Losing economy. Losing society.

Let us do ourselves a favor and do everything in our power to ensure success, else we risk a backwards society that embraces meritocracy and is void of the innovation that lead us to the successes of today.

– Steve Hogan, Managing Partner, Tech-Rx

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