WPA Safety First


The HBR issue’s ‘Failing by Design’ piece featured its own ‘formalised rules’ of failure from a UK retailer. The company pronounced wouldn’t punish failure IF the following applied…

  • Effort involved a genuine uncertainty.
  • Outcome was decisive because they planned carefully.
  • Risks were higher to do nothing – or to conduct further analysis – that to act and fail.
  • Risks were understood and, to the extent possible, mitigated.
  • Costs were small.
  • Costs were contained.
  • Assumptions were documented in writing.
  • Testing assumptions were planned.
  • Commitments were scaled according to them increasing understanding.
  • Success was defined and the opportunity looked significant.

The consideration of ‘rules of failure’ fits nicely with the conjoined concepts of Leadership and Management.

Leaders encourage risk taking; Managers set the rules for risk taking. Both together embrace failure most effectively.