11 August, 2022


11 August, 2022

“Smart people learn from their own mistakes, geniuses from the mistakes of others” – Brandon Mull

The Story about failures and the F**ck-up night.

Why weinvolve got involved?

As many of you know, I spent many years bringing innovation, transformation and change into different organisations and helping people to reinvent, innovate and re-design; 

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Working as an external and internal consultant running Innovation projects across different departments that involves many different stakeholders as well as running senior executives leadership programs working with top executives, management and also having some failures.  

Or rather thankful to those failures.

I learned that before launching any program with a new client, I had to organize and deliver a 1-day innovation workshop as the foundation for the project. That workshop needed to be focused on a real problem and create a tangible outcome for the company, even in this condensed time frame.

Complaint about TOO MUCH Discussion versus HUMAN NEED to WANTING to know it all before starting.

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So how to deal with it.

Because the thing about top executives and some of us is that they/we have very little time. Or rather they/we value their time tremendously. They/we want to see fast results. They/we want tangible outcomes. Now. At the same time, I didn’t want to constantly spend time on bringing them into the project and convincing why it makes sense and what a great value this will have. 

Answer all the questions about our methodology, why we’re doing interviews, etc. Our complete process takes time but more importantly we focus on fast results eliminating risks and we don’t want to waste time on endless discussion or wrong solutions. So it is a fast process but the understanding is needed. To get them on board, we had to give them the experience of the beneficial outcomes from the start and of course the end result of the process. 

So we organised a 1-day workshop on designing outstanding employee experiences.  Before every engagement I would work with project teams on the real project close to their world with real outcomes adding instant value.  This got tangible outcomes quickly that achieved buy-in from all the stakeholders in the project.

I have run this workshop with hundreds of people and GUESS what as we were designing the employee experiences what of the most common ideas was the F**K UP nights. YES the stories of failures of other people. More senior, advanced in their career but also our colleagues? 

Why is that?  

One of the things we learned from this is that employees love a good horror story and 99% of the time employees where designing the f**k up nights. We want to hear what the successful people did wrong how our colleagues suffered. We want to hear how people failed along the way.

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So what’s the connection between failure and innovation, and why should we discuss it? What’s the psychology behind failure? Why does it make us feel good to hear stories of failure, and why do we often prefer them to success stories?

Because our research backs-up what we do. I did a survey on LinkedIn. I was planning to interview LinkedIn’s Influencer of the Year, Ahmad who had over a million followers. I shared a question asking what people wanted to hear from him: failures, successes, or others. Eighty-two per cent wanted to hear about failures.

It could simply be schadenfreude, that perverse glee we feel in others’ misfortune. But as Jo Adetunji, Editor of The Conversation UK points out, “Psychologists have long struggled with how to best understand, explain and study the emotion.” There’s usually something we feel justifies our satisfaction in others’ pain, whether that’s resentment or envy at their relative status, a sense that they have done something to deserve it, or some kind of ‘othering’ dynamic, where we subtly dehumanise the person suffering to enjoy it without guilt.

Or it could be that hearing about others’ failures makes us feel better about ourselves or reduces our atychiphobia–fear of failure. Carol Dweck, author of  Mindset: The New Technology of Success, says that failure affects people with a fixed mindset more than those with a growth mindset because they don’t believe they can learn from their mistakes and change. Guy Winch PhD, the author of How to Fix a Broken Heart, argues it’s not fear of failure but fear of shame that paralyzes people. Elizabeth Day, the author of How to Fail, meanwhile points out that perceived failures are a sign that we need to learn more and that people often reap the most significant rewards when things go wrong.

If you need examples, consider the many inventions made due to mistakes. Sir Alexander Fleming discovered Penicillin in a discarded petri dish. John Hopps was working on regulating body temperature in hypothermia when he discovered that a heart that stopped beating could be restarted with electrical stimulation, leading to the invention of the pacemaker. Constantine Fahlberg forgot to wash his hands after spilling a chemical while working in the John Hopkins University lab and subsequently patented saccharine.

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Hearing about failure is a learning opportunity for those with a growth mindset. As Otto von Bismarck says, “Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others.”

That’s why weinvolve has decided to join the FuckUp Nights movement and host events where we celebrate failure in all its embarrassing, messy glory.

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Because we want to walk the walk and not just talk the talk. We want to create a safe space for people to talk openly about failure and to share all the ways they have fucked up in their lives. 

And I can tell you I have few epic stories to share with you as well 

If you have a courage, epic failure story and you want to share it with the world or at least with 50 or so people in the room, please comment below and we will contact you.  

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Four or five people take to the stage at these events to share their stories of failure. That’s four or five chances for you to be a genius and learn from the mistakes of others. Or four or five instances of schadenfreude, depending on how you view it.

Yes, we are currently seeking speakers for these events. So, if you have a story of epic failure to share, we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch by commenting below and tell us how you f*****d up for more details.

It is in Klosterstrasse 39, 5430 Wettingen 6:30 PM in our office on the 1st of September 2022.

… or you can just listen to those epic stories by booking your ticket below.

Register HERE for the event, drink and pizza included, in this fun night.

See you there

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