Progress, not perfection – Guest Blog by Ian Worman

7th January 2018
Failure swap shop
Failure swap shop
Photos by Marcus Jamieson-Pond

On Monday the 27th November 2017 I attended my first Charity meet up. The topic of the evening was success and failure. It was an amazing evening, I met some great people. The topic was well presented with lots of new ideas to take away, I am planning to present some stuff at the next team meeting. Including the failure swap shop and the success matrix.

Why did I find this helpful and interesting?

To understand my answer to this you need to know a little more about me!

I was in corporate IT for 13 years. In that time I had many successes and failures (More successes than failures but it is the failures that stay with you). Over the years I notice there was a pattern forming:

1 – Gathering requirements for a new computer system is hard! I would go to a requirement gathering meetings and ask the question “How would you like the new system to work?”
I would get what would look like great answers. I would develop the system I felt they had asked for. I would deliver it to the users and they would hate it.
What was happening here;

  • Was I asking the wrong question?
  • Were the wrong people in the room at the requirement gathering stage?
  • Were people asking for what they thought they should ask for instead or what they really wanted?

2 – Often it felt like we spoke a different language in IT to the rest of the company. I am not talking about the jargon here. I stayed away from Jargon. Every sector has it Jargon and I had to get past that but even once you had removed the Jargon there is still a different view of the world.

  • How do you get a room full of people to take the same message away from a conversation?

3 – Difficult relationships were often created in the first meeting and were really hard to put right.

  • You get one chance to make a good impression. How to you get it right every time?

At this point, I had a lot of question but few answers and IT did not seem to have the answers. In my search for answers, I found NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) and Hypnosis.

I then left IT and was a hypnotherapist for 6 years. I have been working in I.T in the charity sector for the past three years.

Photos by Marcus Jamieson-Pond

Why did I find the Charity meetup session on success and failure helpful and interesting?

I have always been interested in how we manage failure and how we accept praise.

Why is saying ‘I have failed’ so hard? The failure swap shop helps make this easier as it becomes about what you have learned and not the fact that you have failed.

Very often in IT what we are trying to do has not been done before so we have to be allowed to make mistakes to take the wrong turn. The success matrix is a great reframe. It makes Failure during experimentation acceptable.

What are my thoughts on failure?

Working in IT and hypnotherapy I have noticed some patterns in how people fail. Here are three great ways to fail

Method one: ‘I tried it once and it did not work’

This is a great way to fail. Conrad Hilton said

“Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.”

I often ask hypnosis clients “When you were a baby how many times did you fall down before you could walk?”

A child just keeps trying to walk however many times they fall.  As the client pondered this idea I would then talk about WD40. WD40 has “failure” in its name. The company was looking for a non-oil based Water Displacement liquid. WD1 to WD39 all failed. However, WD40 was an amazing success.

Do not give up!

Method two: ‘I was so busy solving X I missed the fact that I solved Y!’

When we do not get the result we want, we call it Failure! Are all failures a bad thing? Sometimes we solve a problem we never know we had. Henry Ford said

“Even a mistake may turn out to be the one thing necessary to a worthwhile achievement.”

The ‘Post-it note’ is a perfect example of success out of failure. In 1968. 3m was trying to create the world’s strongest glue. One formula created in this quest was the glue they would later use for the ‘Post-it note’. Instead of dismissing this glue as a failure they logged it as a ‘Solution without a problem’. In 1974 a young 3M employee was going to bible studies and was fed up with their bookmarks falling out of the bible. One visit to the ‘Solution without a problem’ archive and the ‘Post-it note’ was born.

What value is there in your Failure? You may just be learning how not to do it. However, you may be solving a problem you never knew you had.

‘It’s not perfect so I failed!’

We often set a binary goal. This means that even if we get 95% of what we aimed for we write it off as a failure. Malcolm Forbes said

“Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are.”

A great example of this is New Year’s resolutions. Take mine from last year for example. “I will weigh less than 85.0 kg by the end of the year.” At the time I weighed 106.4kg and the target of 85.0 kg looked like a great goal. I typed my Weight, height and age into a calorie calculator and it said I need 2,700 calories a day. The websites told me reducing my calorie intake by 500 calories a day was a safe way to lose weight. After six months of consuming 2,200 calories each day, my weight loss stopped. I recalibrate my calories and started to consume 2,000 calories each day. Writing this I weigh 87.5 kg. I wanted to be 85.0 kg. The question is.

Have I failed in losing 21.4 kg or have I succeeded in losing 19kg?

Photos by Marcus Jamieson-Pond

I am going to call it a win! At the start of 2017 I should have set a friendly, non-binary goal. Something on the lines of “In 2017 I will lose weight! Anything less than 100kg would be OK. Being under 95 Kg and I would have done well. Being under 90 Kg and I would have done very well. Being less than 85 Kg would be excellent”

When you set a goal check to see if a Binary goal is the right goal. If you just miss a goal then accept what has been achieved.

Guest Blog by Ian Worman

Ian Worman
Ian Worman

Ian Worman is a Database Developer at CLIC Sargent. He has worked in IT for over 16 years. He joined CLIC Sargent in 2017 to support their database. CLIC Sargent supports children and young people with cancer. CLIC Sargent

Connect with Ian: Linkedin

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