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This week’s focus: As the aphorism goes, success has many fathers but failure is an orphan. Or, as a senior project manager once replied to me after I’d asked him if he’d been heavily involved in a new, exciting and innovative project, “Well Stuart, it’s too early to say!” And yet we all know that understanding and applying the lessons of failures as well as successes is the best route to future growth. The real failure is failing to learn. So, how do you learn from your, erm, less successful projects as well as your winners?

At an upcoming strategy retreat with the executive team of a major UK retailer, we will seek to address this issue. One of the activities we will do is review the performance of the company’s growth initiatives over the past five years. We will list the initiatives, identify their level of success – or otherwise – and understand the underlying reasons for their relative performance. The work will enable us to better understand the likely drivers of success and failure of their new growth ideas, and help the team organize for future success.

I will let you know how the review goes, but how about you? How do you ensure that your organisation learns from both success and failure to help accelerate your future growth?

Off The Record: Only A Fool Breaks His Own Heart by Bergen and Coburn

Why do I go on fooling myself

When I know you love somebody else

Only a fool breaks his own heart

Perhaps not a really well known song, but it has been sung by artists as varied as Tom Jones, Sly & Robbie and Long John Baldry. I first heard the song on an album by Nick Lowe, see here.

© Stuart Cross 2015. All rights reserved.