Dealing with Failure in front of the crowd

I did it. I messed up big time. It was the big show with my client. I’d done it so many times before that I lost count. But today, I was off.

It was the P4 PI Planning opening ceremony day (a SAFe big room planning event, the fourth one; quarterly) and it was my honor to go on stage as the leader, servant, external change agent and sr. consultant to share a few inspirational words with the agile release trains (ARTs). My peer and amazing US Marine friend, leader, servant, internal change agent, Papa Joe LaTorre, had deferred to me to close the ceremony as he normally does, the gentleman that he is.

You know that time you practice your speech and timing and wait for just the right moment to launch your inspirational superhero movie quote? yeah…. I messed it up in front of a few hundred people. “with great responsibility there must also come great power.” “You know, spider man’s dad” Oops. Alert! Improvements needed. I realized what I had done instantly. All those fleeting words and I screwed up the closer.

I had done it, my goose was cooked. I felt foolish on stage doing my job. People depended on me and I let them down! I failed right in front of the entire executive team! All the teams!

No! An amazing thing happened. People are amazing. Someone did call me out, kindly. The crowd had a huge laugh out of the mistake. I realized something in that moment. There was trust. And respect. And awesome people in that crowd!

So, I did my best to make fun of my mistake and get the point out. The teams got it, perhaps even deeper than intended, and we moved on.

I am deeply honored and blessed to work with such great people. I share all this to give you a real world example of how to deal with failure. Failure will happen. It’s not a matter of *if*, but when. Our objective should never be to take the opportunity of failure to tear people or teams down. It should always be to learn. Building a learning organization is one of the three primary directives of this humble coach.

We are all susceptible to failure. Do you know *how* to fail fast, fail forward? Cognizant of patterns of failure? of success? How often do we analyze and observe the patterns of failure AND success to learn from what works, and what doesn’t?

Here’s how:

  1. Admit you made a mistake. Transparency.  As a team.
  2. Root cause the mistake. As a team.
  3. Analyze to determine if a pattern exists. As a team.
  4. Brainstorm, fishbone, mind map potential solutions. As a team.
  5. Select the solution with the highest probability of successfully solving the problem. As a team.
  6. Document it all. As a team.

Look for my second vlog on the subject!



Published by Marshall Guillory -

Information Technology professional, transformation leader, agile evangelist & coach, change agent, scrum master, servant leader and more...

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