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View analysis of a failure as a failure autopsy

May 1, 2014
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According to David Frank, president of the American Institute for Cleaning Sciences, everyone fears failure but just about everyone can learn from their failures.

 Learning from failures helps prevent re-occurrence, says Frank, “So businesses [and individuals] can focus on growth and success.”

 To better understand how distributors, as well as just about every business person, can learn from their mistakes, this month’s Elevate Your Effectiveness from AFFLINK shares Frank’s advice on how “catastrophes, blunders, and even small everyday mistakes have the capacity to teach us valuable lessons.”

According to Frank, learning from failure is a process that involves the following three components:    


The first step in learning from a failure is to be able to identify it. This may be difficult in certain environments and some people may be uncomfortable sharing their failures, but exposing failures as early as possible is essential for learning purposes. “Business owners and managers [must] create an environment in which people have an incentive, or at least do not have a disincentive, to reveal their mistakes,” says Frank.   


Analysis and discussion of a failure can be challenging but it is the only way to learn from the mistake. “View analysis of a failure as a failure helps identify the root cause of the failure so it can be prevented in the future,” he adds.  


 Contrary to what many people may suggest, Frank believes business owners and managers should allow for some failure experimentation. “Allowing for failures or creating small failures for the sole purpose of learning from them [can] make larger failures less likely,” explains Frank.

Sometimes distributors and other business people must deal with more than a failure and face a real crisis. In such situations, there often were early warning signs but, once again, Frank says it is from those experiences that learning comes.

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