Samsung: To Succeed You Often Have To Fail First

Why creativity is iterative and not an end-game.



It’s become a tag that no one wants to be associated with. In this social media-fuelled world we now live in, #winning tends to be what we all want to be striving for. And rightly so… otherwise, what’s the point in developing ourselves to be the best that we possibly can? However, public shaming of the word ‘fail’ has created a culture and mind-set where slipping up simply isn’t an option.

This might in part be down to the fact that we don’t often get a chance to make a second impression. That once we hit ‘send’ or ‘go’ we’re totally committed leaving zero room for failure and second chances. This fear of retribution is concerning to me. Surely one of the ways we learn is by having the occasional slip-up?

The obvious answer is yes, but this situation is exacerbated by the fact that in this digital age, there really is nowhere to hide. Actions usually have consequences and we’re more self-obsessed than ever before. This notion is massively conflicting when trying to create a learning culture that is given the freedom to flourish.


Failure is not the enemy

The process of learning is dynamic. It evolves, has a pulse and can accelerate and decelerate at the whim of individuals. It’s not a static process. Nor is it linear. It’s precisely because of this that it’s mind-blowing to think there is no room for failure in the learning process. Let’s be clear… failure is certainly not the enemy.

I would argue that not allowing failure can be an impediment to allowing learning and creativity to take flight. If we’re always going to be afraid to #fail, then we breed a culture of people who are risk-averse and self-conscious. This, in my mind, stifles the learning process and means creativity simply cannot occur.

To create is to be seen (by yourself and others) and to be ‘seen’ is absolutely terrifying. However, we need to think smarter and channel fear into positive energy that fuels learning and creativity. There are so many tools out there to aid this process and we should not be afraid of embracing new technologies.


Take risks to unlock creativity

As a business, we have always tried to push ourselves to the absolute limit. Our brand philosophy, “Do What You Can’t,” couldn’t be more perfect in propelling people and businesses towards unrelenting ambition and success. We have the tools and technologies available today to enable businesses to make mistakes safely and ideate in a way we’ve never been able to before.

By ensuring the process of learning and creativity is fluid, collaborative and open-minded, we can help to address the fear-factor that many people may feel, either in the workplace or place of education.

Nothing is permanent anymore. Attention spans are short, and learning is an iterative process. We have to be willing to take risks to unlock creativity and create a learning culture which is more subliminal and forgiving.


Culture is king

This doesn’t happen overnight. Far from it. Cultural change can take ages to be fully engrained in a business or institution, but it is worth the effort. The fact is that a lot of workplaces simply don’t tolerate failure. And for many people, risk-taking or failing is not part of the job description – and with good reason!

Employers need to ensure that the learning environment they shape is safe enough to accommodate failure. A lot of leaders are quick to punish and slow to forgive when mistakes are made. This could have a cataclysmic impact on the cultural and creative DNA of organisations.

Creativity thrives in situations where boundaries can be pushed, rules can be broken, and experiments can take place.


Managing this tension

There are a number of ways to instil a more (cautiously) risk-taking culture which allows ideas and learning to happen more organically:

  • Open your tech – businesses and organisations should be ditching their paper flipcharts for more sophisticated tech which is more accommodating to failure – get it wrong, simply touch the screen and start again – check out Samsung’s latest creative collaboration tool Flip
  • Open your mind – it’s not just about knowing what you know, it’s about knowing what you don’t know in equal measure. We need to be open to new ideas, diverse perspectives and new opinions – it may seem frightening, but it will create a thriving and buoyant learning environment.
  • Open your eyes – don’t underestimate the power of visual stimuli as you go about furthering your learning and creativity. Absorb things around you, focus your lense on the unexpected and learn from past fails to achieve winning solutions.

Building a culture where risk-taking and failure are not frowned upon, but invite learning, has to be the future.  As Richard Branson once said: “you’ve got to take risks if you’re going to succeed. I would much rather ask forgiveness than permission.”


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