What happens when an NGO admits failure?

June 12, 2014

International aid groups make the same mistakes over and over again. At TEDxYYC David Damberger uses his own engineering failure in India to call for the development sector to publicly admit, analyze, and learn from their missteps.

Oh so much to learn from this sort talk from David Damberger….Organisations defend so rigorously against failure (or admitting it at least).  Its worth speculating about what our systems might be like if we admitted to being ‘ordinary’ rather than aiming for spectacular results which very often fail.  Damberger comes up with some interesting practical suggestions for how failure can be marshalled in the service of learning and cites the Engineers without Borders annual failure report.  I would like to suggest that we need new emotional leadership in organizations.  What do I mean? A type of leadership that sees emotion as a core element of organising.  Emotion is systemically manufactured and individually felt.  It is as much a part of the world of work as the physical or tangible products that are made.  A new type of leadership would put emotion back where it belongs at the hear of organizing and would also challenge the fear that it is personal, irrational, negative and disruptive.

If you feel like reading about failure head over here to Admitting Failure.  The site is full of fascinating stories of ‘failure’ and the learning they inspired.

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