Economic Development and Small Business & Startups

Failure:Lab launches corporate training program

The initiative is an interactive program focused on innovation, collaboration and creative thinking.

March 25, 2016
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No one knows how to fail as well as Failure:Lab.

The Grand Rapids-based organization,which produces events at which people present their personal and professional stories of failure to build a better sense of community and understanding around failure, recently announced the launch of a new corporate training program.

Failure:Laboratory, which launched approximately three months ago, is designed as an “interactive training program that helps enterprises and organizations remove roadblocks to innovation, collaboration and creative thinking in their culture,” according to a press release.

“Companies today are experiencing exponential change and new competition and the pressure to create new value. It’s very difficult to keep a strong corporate culture, retain talent and stay ahead of the pack,” said Jonathan Williams, co-founder of Failure:Lab.

“Failure:Laboratory addresses these problems by taking a deeper dive into the issues which hold people back — what’s stifling progress and why fear inhibits healthy growth.”

The program is structured to facilitate a series of modules with companies and universities. The modules were designed using social science, practical work situations, story-telling and brain science. Companies are implementing the program internally to encourage smart risk-taking, eliminating the crippling fear of failure.

On the local level, Goodwill Industries already has completed the program.

One of the program’s first national clients is computer technology company Dell.

“The risk of failure can create a stigma within organizations that can negatively impact a company’s culture. It influences the emotions of people, which can influence the actions of teams in the workplace,” said Susan Collard, career development director of global marketing talent and capabilities at Dell.

“Incorporating the Failure:Laboratory curriculum and learning from failure can have a positive impact on solving customer problems and developing valuable product innovations. Take the risk. There will be failures — you will overcome obstacles and learn — (and) success will follow.”

Larry Faragalli, CEO and creative director at Grand Rapids digital design company Brightly, helped design the Failure:Laboratory modules. He said the curriculum is designed with a “fast-start,” meaning “it can be scaled to any size organization and easily accessed by people across the country or across cultures.”

“Every failure teaches us something. It is the key to success in business and in our personal lives,” he said.

Using presentations and team-building exercises, the program’s participants go through the following basic structure:

  • Topic introduction and curated content
  • Facilitated group discussions
  • Group exercises
  • Individual journaling and reflection
  • Failure:Lab video presentations and discussions
  • Group projects
  • Participant presentations

“Failure:Laboratory moves employees out of isolated silos and brings them together to build more accepting, resilient and healthy environments,” said Denise VanEck, lead facilitator and co-author of Failure:Laboratory.

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