The F-word... defining Failure

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At ATB, we talk a lot about embracing change and being comfortable with a certain F- word. For any high performance team, it’s THE F-word. So what does it really mean to celebrate failure?

The dictionary may define failure as ‘a lack of success,’ but for us, the definition just doesn’t quite fit. Here is how we define failure in a way that allows us to celebrate and learn from it at ATB:

Recognizing when you’ve taken the wrong path in reaching a particular goal and either switching paths or becoming stronger from taking the long way. Just because you are on the wrong path doesn’t mean that you won’t eventually get to your destination.

‘Failure’ is a temporal state on the path to a solution—like a baby learning to walk, an individual fall does not mean that success is not the ultimate outcome. In embracing and learning from mistakes and failures, we are ensuring our eventual success.

We learn by doing, instead of watching. Being the first to attempt something new is a great way to increase your chances of failure, but we are brave enough to try.

As we move through our transformation and adopt an agile mindset across the organization, it is crucial for our leadership and team members across ATB to have a common understanding of what failure is and why we celebrate it.

The micro failures, the day-to-day choices and decisions that come with the agile mindset are opportunities to be humble, correct our path, and learn quickly from our mistakes. This pivot in thinking is part of how we can shift from incremental change to 10X leaps. Being able to change paths, or adjust the target entirely.

We’ve got the tools to help team members think and talk about failure in a way that helps move us forward. Things like a failure toolkit with survey insights, our definition of failure and the reasoning behind this shift in mentality. We engage, leveraging internal platforms such as transformation talks and G+ communities where we socialize and reflect on individual and team failures.

Come to think of it, you might say that we have already ‘failed’ at celebrating failure. With our most recent surveys showing only 50% of the organization aligned with our definition successfully celebrating failure. We may not be at our target yet, but that doesn’t mean that we won’t get there. Whether we are developing new banking tools, or working to change our company culture, we take the learnings and celebrate failures, because we have faith it will make our solutions even stronger. Interested in being part of a team embracing failure? Check out our open positions.