Why remembering -- and celebrating -- things that have gone wrong at work is good for your team

Mark Cuban once said “You only have to be right once.” And he is just one of many successful people who sees the value of failure.

The Other ‘F’ Word,” by University of California Berkeley lecturers John Danner and Mark Coopersmith, lists a seven-step process to help companies work past failure.

The final step is remembering the lessons learned when something went wrong.

“The basic issue around workplace culture is really creating an environment of trust,” Danner tells Business Insider. “It must go vertically so employees feel the folks above them can be trusted, and also horizontally so people know their job or reputation isn’t at risk if failure occurs.”

In the book, Danner and Coopersmith offer four ways you can use past failures to strengthen the culture of your office:

1. Use stories to carry and represent the company’s culture.

Danner describes stories as a “beautiful thing” because they show more authenticity than a memo — and it’s all about confidence and humility.

“Leaders are always in the midst of stories,” he says. “It’s important to be in a culture that can genuinely talk about its past failures and what they learned, and what those failures actually show about the strength of the underlying culture.”

2. Have rituals to ease the mood in the face of uncertainty.

Rituals are repeated activities that highlight the most important aspects from a failure. As an example, Danner describes how Roche Pharmaceuticals hosts celebratory lunches to highlight the lessons learned from failure.

Danner loves this strategy because it “actually gives props to people who have the guts to try something new,” which is huge in an industry that fails nine times for every success.

3. Keep relics as physical artifacts of failure.

Contrary to stories and rituals, relics are actual artifacts that remind an organisation of a failure and what they learned from it. “They can be memos, videos, any number of remembrances of things that didn’t go well but turned out to be incredibly important,” Danner says. “Failure contains all kinds of insights if you’re creative and tenacious enough to try to discover them.”

4. Generate reports to increase resiliency.

Reports are basically “the formal lifeblood of many organisations,” Danner says. Put simply, a report is a formal memorialization of the failure and the lessons learned.

“If an organisation isn’t conscious of the importance of failure as a strategic resource, it’s likely to miss the early signs, and it’s likely to delay the awareness when it’s really happening,” he says.

It’s important to note that while these four remembrances of failure won’t completely prevent fallibility, they will “help make an organisation more failure-savvy,” Danner says.

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