How tech failures can transform your business for the better

Disaster strikes

Success is a wonderful thing, but while it makes life a lot easier, it doesn't develop either you or your business. This is especially true in IT. Lessons learned come the hard way through poor practices in management, botched implementation and limitations in technology.

Failure can also stem from trying to get too much done in a single project rather than breaking things down into more manageable chunks, or not allowing enough time for people to do their parts. Sometimes it can be down to a vendor or consultant leading you down the wrong path.

But failure doesn't have to be all bad. If you have the right processes and more importantly, the right attitude in place, then tech flops have the power to be informative, educational and often in the end they can transform your organisation for the better.

Insight from failure

We are often told when we are kids that we should learn from our mistakes. But in the world of work, most organisations cannot handle failure and often don't have processes in place to work out why problems happened. This is wrong as failures should be embraced as part of the learning process.

What divides great IT leaders from the rest of the pack is the ability to get insight from failure and then apply that insight to help succeed in the future. So how can you make the most of failure and learn to avoid it down the road?

Learn what works for your organisation

Over the past few years, businesses across an increasingly wide range of sectors have begun working in an agile way, Tracy Goddard, director of professional services at Changepoint observes.

She says: "It is important to remember that agile will not be the right fit for everybody. It is dangerous to change the way you work just because it ison-trend; the UK Government encountered big problems with its £2 billion (around $2.8 billion, or AU$3.8 billion) Universal Credit project because it tried to use an agile development method when that way of working did not suit the way it worked with suppliers."

Learn that it is safe to fail

Larger companies find learning a slow process and are often quicker to blame things that solve problems which manifest themselves. When this happens, staff won't be quick to admit failure, compounding things further along the line.

"You can't have people who are afraid of making mistakes," says Yorgen Edholm, CEO at Accellion. "In high-tech, there are no templates, so you need to cultivate a culture that accepts mistakes, as long as you learn from them."

In doing so this encourages creativity and innovation. Anyone with new ideas can experiment with them without worrying that failure would be perceived as only a negative. Of course, this doesn't mean there is no accountability when failure happens. There's a fine line to tread and you need to have employees motivated to perform to the best of their abilities and not just to a level they can get away with.