David Frederick's | iAIR BLOG

Consulting, Innovation, Strategy, Vision, Education, & Ideation

Programmed Failure

I have been thinking a lot these days about something I call “Programmed Failure”. It seems to permeate business, government, industry, education and innovation. What is Programmed Failure? I have defined it as such: Programmed Failure – a systematic institutional mind set of reactive behavior to perceived and actual demands on the organization. This includes not killing off non-essential projects, engaging and executing projects you know are not productive or core to your organization, OR forcing input into a capacity limited framework thus ensuring failure either in expectations, deliverables, or cost/benefit.

Programmed failure not only costs money, but moral, productivity, through put, and success. Yet, I see it everywhere I look. In the current market it is pervasive because people dont know what to do. Its analogous to the dot com era where solid business principals went out the door. However, today, it was exotic hedge funds, mortgage securities, etc. However, its deeper than that. It goes to the core and fabric of an organization. Even when I discuss with clients or see organizations engaging in so called innovation initiatives, they are still locked in Programmed Failure. They use “innovation” as a thin cover for doing the same dumb things over and over again – Programmed Failure.

To truly break out of the PF mindset, you need to break the rules, think outside the proverbial box, be willing to fail, be willing to invest both time and money knowing you may fail. While big rewards dont always have to come with big risks, risk taking is a foundation of innovation. Dont let PF infect and incapacitate your organization. Use basic exercises like scenario analysis – What it is and How is it done. Simple exercises like these help you ask questions. Questions lead to thinking why and why not. Questions then lead to ideas which ultimately lead to new thinking. But make no mistake. You will need to be intellectually honest in your thinking. If you dont, you are back to PF.

Dont let your organization be trapped by Programmed Failure.

-DF

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Written by David Frederick

April 29, 2009 at 4:13 PM

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