I recently took part in a roundtable discussion organised by GirlsInTech China, a group dedicated to championing women in technology, and everything female-led at the cutting edge of business between China and the US. The panel was a mix of American and Asian female entrepreneurs. The topic was failure. Specifically, ‘How to fail up’ or how to make failure a manageable and productive component of growth and success.
The discussion was particularly interesting because of the difference between American and Chinese societal attitudes to failure. Yuan Zou, president of Media Consulting, Sinotech Group and GirlsInTech China’s Girl 2.0 2010, spoke about the stigma of failure in China, and how this fundamental cultural issue is a significant inhibitor for entrepreneurialism.
One of the most damaging dynamics in any business is fear of failure. Decisions made out of fear are bad decisions. Failure happens. If you don’t fail, you’re not aiming high enough. But its impact on you and your business depends on how you process, manage and design for it.
And that’s easier to do now, when all development has to be organic. Today launching a venture, a marketing programme or a PR campaign is about interactivity and real-time responsiveness.
Build your work to the equivalent of what the tech world calls ‘minimum viable product’, put it out there, see what the community does with it, refine, manage and develop it accordingly. That makes it harder to ‘fail’ because you open up with your audience inviting them to input and help, and giving them a sense of mutual ownership.
Don’t fail alone, when you can design-in the ability to succeed together.
This article was originally published in the December issue of Campaign Asia-Pacific.