Why is everyone afraid to fail? All the successful companies do it.

by | Apr 26, 2023 12:07:36 PM | Strategy

Failing is tough and typically doesn’t feel the greatest. However, it's also one of the best ways to learn.

While attending HubSpot's INBOUND conference last year, I heard an interesting talk from Dorien Morin-van Dam titled How to Lead a Small Team to Marketing Success with Agile.

The majority of her presentation was about building a Minimal Viable Product (MVP) and applying principles from the Agile Manifesto. But what struck a chord with me was when she talked about failure.

Her premise was that failure should be accepted because, without it, you can’t really test or build what is needed. She walked through scenarios and even had the audience participate in testing products as examples.

Should we have a Failure Statement? 

It was interesting when Dorien brought up accepting failure — so I decided to bring up the idea to the team and see if they agreed. I wanted confirmation on whether we needed to embrace failure, while also encouraging our clients to embrace it to create success.

Many people may wait too long to act, approve, or move an idea forward. New ideas, processes, and systems seem too risky, and the thought of “what if” sinks in. We’ve all been there, but agile teams need the ability to make mistakes, move fast, and learn.

Our team agreed. So we crafted a failure statement.


1 Bold Step's Failure Statement

Some ideas work, and some ideas teach us how to work better.

Here at 1 Bold Step, we believe that truly Agile teams need the ability to fail. That doesn’t mean that we want to mess up. It means that we create plans, set goals, test processes, and incrementally learn from our opportunities. Then we modify them, adjust, and use every chance we can to learn how to work better. We are always collecting insightful data and context to inform our decisions while being laser-focused on you and your organization’s needs. "Some ideas work, and some ideas teach us how to work better."

This is what makes our process unique, and quite frankly, successful.


What does this mean for you?

  1. In order to hit goals and move the needle for your organization, we all need to be comfortable with failing and learning from the experience.

  2. Approval for campaign briefs, content, or the overall marketing direction should happen fast — knowing we can always make changes to digital content or adjust the direction we’ve decided to take.

  3.  We will be accountable for our work, document what we do, and be transparent about what has (or has not) worked. And we always back it up with “why.”

  4. We are NOT comfortable making mistakes. Mistakes are different from failures. Marketing materials should be reviewed and mistakes should be limited and/or minor if our process is followed.

  5. Things should NOT be rushed. We’ve focused on building solid procedures and processes that result in success, and we follow them closely. We don’t like to skip steps — an out-of-order process can fast-track an unnecessary failure.

What’s Next

At the end of the day, our goal is to work as efficiently as possible to generate leads, increase sales, and prove a return on marketing investment for our clients. That means adopting the statement above, presenting this when we meet new prospects, and encouraging our clients to adopt a fail-fast mentality.   

We started using this statement in our intro decks and our SOWs. We’ve even encouraged this idea of “failure” in team/client retrospects, while also planning to talk about this on our site (stay tuned).  

If you’re interested in talking through your own Failure Statement or have feedback on ours, I would love to hear from you. Just click here to reach out. 

About 1 Bold Step

At 1 Bold Step we believe that everything can be more efficient, but especially marketing. Acting as an extension of a client’s marketing department (onsite or virtually), we help create systems, order, and accountability. With a focus on increasing sales and proving return on marketing investment, we’re determined to change marketing from overhead to value add. 


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