Is “winning” always a good thing? Here we discuss the benefits of failure.
We’ve been having a discussion about ‘winning” and “not winning”. What does it look like in your business, school or community? How do you respond when things don’t quite work out.
Sometimes it is not about competition – for some public sector organisations “not winning” maybe a downgrade in the audit or not achieving key goals. For the last five years schools in Welwyn Hatfield compete in the Welwyn Hatfield Dragons Apprentice Challenge. This year there was a prize for the overall winner. The winning team didn’t raise most money from fundraising. Neither did they have the best prepared presentation. It was the grit and determination of the team to succeed – at times in spite of the School hierarchy – that convinced the judges.
In a very real sense all of the teams that took part won. Our latest video, shows some of the lessons that the young people took from their involvement with the Welwyn Hatfield Dragons Apprentice Challenge.
The message from our business judges was that in business, winning and losing are regular occurrences and cannot be disguised from the future workforce. Here at Red Potato we’ve had more than our share of failures, which have at times translated into costly financial losses and more importantly repetitional damage. Those failures were not comfortable but they have become deeply seared into the organisation. We have learnt from those failures to improve processes and procedures so the mistakes are not repeated. That is the very uncomfortable truth about failure: it can be a very powerful force that drives you to improve. Maybe Young People need to fail more in order to find their real success.
I know many people are not interested in the company compost heap and wonder why we at Red Potato go on about compost. So I hope some of the text below goes some way to explain why we think compost is important
There is something quite magical about how our food scraps, grass cuttings, and leaves get transformed into the sweet-smelling compost that is rich in the nutrients to grow more food. Here at Red Potato HQ we have just added several loads of horse manure to add to the mix. Most stables are only too glad to let you have the manure for free; even a small stable yard can produce around 450kgs of the stuff per day – all of which takes up lots of space in the yard. Sorry sounding a bit like a “storage salesman” – let’s get back to the compost….
Its been quite a dry winter and I’m afraid that we haven’t been watering the Red Potato compost heap sufficiently. As a result the heap was looking quite dry and lifeless when we turned it over recently. However since adding around 10 bags of horse manure the heap is looking much more healthy! A photo of the heap after the dose of manure is shown below!
OK so all that is fine for the garden, but what has it got to do with Red Potato – a new company which is uses technology to improve community engagement. Well, Red Potato believes in putting stuff back into the ground from which it was taken – “what ye sow, so shall ye reap”. In terms of our business model we help public sector organisations get a better insight into the communities they serve, by enabling the communities themselves to tell their own story, in their own words – without the need for b*llsh*t or well-rotted horse manure!
The public sector deals in information, yet the value of that information is sometimes lost amongst all the other things going on. Often we are asking elected members or senior management to make an informed judgement on policy based on too much data. Yes you read it right, “too much data” masking the key points we are trying to convey.
The Place Survey contained vast amounts of data, but how much was then distilled into intelligence which could be used to drive local improvements? I have been part of presentations where legions of graphs were presented on resident satisfaction and the importance of different services only to find that the data is used to justify existing policy.
Maybe a different approach is needed in which we use pictures to give direction of travel and focus on the issues being discussed. Less data, presented more effectively can be more powerful.