95% Failure

May 16, 2011 Leave a comment

Photo by: vincentevanpig

I was just talking to a scientist friend of mine.  He told me, and I quote, that “unfortunately, in science, we fail 95% of the time, we inch along towards a breakthrough.”  There is a lot of good talk about failure lately, but I don’t think I had ever heard it this way before.  When I heard him say that I felt like I wished it was a widely known fact.

We still place a high level of trust on science; we use it to validate almost everything.  What if more of us understood how science works?  Maybe we would be a lot more compassionate with ourselves!  I certainly hope that we would be less afraid to try new things.  Maybe we would even be less judgmental of others.

And what about our organizations?  I can’t help but notice the way we beat up on our own organizations.  We get so frustrated that they are not perfect – as if a perfect place really existed.  We beat up our leaders for our collective failures while we ourselves fail to take responsibility.

But really – we are all just inching our way along.  We are doing it in our personal lives and we are doing it in our organizational lives.  We’ll keep on making mistakes.  The important thing is to pay attention, to be thorough and rigorous with our observations, to make necessary adjustments, to try new things.  Judge a little less, and be a lot less afraid, this is just the way things work.

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  • Kam says:

    lots of things fail 95% of the time. sometimes even more.

    take music album releases, book publishing, new business ventures, game development – they fail a lot.

    i don’t agree that we should just judge less – perhaps that should really say judge less without critical appraisal, but judge more if you’re being critical and intelligent about the feedback.

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