In the final installment of Harvard Business Review contributor Larry Clark’s series on navigating complexity, he reframes the benefits of failure in an interesting way. He begins with an NFL coaching analogy. The emergence mindset he believes business owners must adopt is similar to how football coaches choose plays based on what they learned during previous ones.
Emergence thinking requires willingness and the necessary space to fail, learn and adapt. This is still a struggle for many leaders, who’ve been conditioned to believe their job is to predict the future. To move beyond this, Clark suggests building a safe environment where testing ideas is rewarded. Implement learning projects where the desired outcome is gaining knowledge, which is useful whether it fails or not.
Side note: He says avoid using the word “pilot” for learning projects. It implies a level of commitment that can stifle a safe testing culture.