Chicken soup for the innovator’s soul

Source: PBS

I asked a co-worker the other day, “should I question my priorities in life when I get completely geeked out when my new issue of the Harvard Business Review shows up?” Wait…don’t answer that. Because I do get really excited.

Here is some more gold from the HBR. Jason Seiken of PBS, discusses how he pushed his team to fail. Not just pay lip service to the idea of failure, but to actually fail. And what was the result? Did Seiken get fired? Did ratings, clicks, viewers, etc at PBS decline?

Exactly the opposite. This mindset – embracing failure and taking risks let Seiken and PBS to some huge wins.

If you have read much of my blog, it won’t surprise you that I find what Seiken did at PBS to be incredibly inspirational. I just love hearing these stories. This is chicken soup for my soul.

Sometimes what you need to do to be successful is the opposite of what everyone else is telling you. The first are last. The last are first. Winning is losing. Losing is winning.

Great stuff Jason. Thanks for your leadership and sharing your story with HBR.

Please read the entire blog entry here:

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

Business-school literature has long stressed the importance of taking risks and encouraging rapid failure. In the real world of quarterly numbers, though, embracing failure mostly remains a throwaway line in CEO speeches.

So when I joined the company in December 2006, I decided to deliver a shock to the system. Soon after arriving at PBS, I called the digital team into a conference room and announced we were ripping up everyone’s annual performance goals and adding a new metric. – Failure.

Because if you’re not failing enough, you’re playing it safe.

We learned that to make the culture change stick, we needed to be both radical and incremental.

Radical because we needed to establish audacious goals to inspire the team. Incremental because, well, we didn’t want to get fired. (And because it’s a rare organization able to swallow significant change in one gulp.)

By making failure a requirement, I had shocked them into taking the message seriously. Sometimes it takes a stunt to push people — and organizations — out of their comfort zones and on to lasting change.


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