As healthcare leaders, we want to inspire and empower our employees to do creative, high-quality work that serves our patients and our communities. There is seemingly no end to the methods executives can use to accomplish this goal, but I have found that no strategic plan, incentive, or leadership development program can foster this kind of work like an organizational culture where it’s safe to fail. When employees aren’t afraid to take a risk on an innovative idea, they are free to do their very best work.
A work culture that embraces failure
I want my staff to feel empowered to be creative and innovative, but innovation is dead on arrival if employees are afraid of what the repercussions from upper management will be if an idea flops. My teams operate with a rapid process improvement technique; we run with new ideas, and if it doesn’t work, we’ll try something new tomorrow. Not every decision has to be permanent.
Creating a culture that embraces failure as part of forward progress requires hiring the right kind of person. While it’s essential to hire people based on the fit of their experience and skills, I believe it’s also important to find people that have a range of passions and talents beyond what is directly related to the position’s responsibilities or highlighted on their resume. Once you uncover that passion, turn them loose doing what they’re excited about or interested in.
It can be risky. But I’ve found that when you aren’t setting boundaries and telling people what is possible and what isn’t, they will amaze you with what they can do with passion, drive, and desire when they are free from the fear of failure.