Badass Agile

Badass Agile


Episode 87 - Fear of Failure

March 04, 2019


  • Fear of failure surfaces at every level of your organization

  • In individuals, teams, units, leadership

  • It is a perfectly natural human instinct.  People don’t want to lose face, lose trust, or lose security in the form of their jobs, prospects, opportunity for growth, and pay

  • However, fear of failure creates several forms of waste and loss:

    • Hesitation (doubt, uncertainty, procrastination)

    • Resistance to change

    • Stonewalling - resistance to team

    • Overcompensating with process to gain certainty and safety (planning, consensus building, failsafes, estimation

    • All of these result in very poor performance



  • The antidote is in the the culture you build

    • Hesitation - train people (through Agile Games, for example) the value of quick decisioning, and give them safety nets when their rapid experiments fail

    • Pull change, don’t push it

    • Connect more authentically with people’s sense of purpose, values, and needs.

    • Again, start with willing minds and projects that fit - lower risk, less need for documentation - and pull people to you with the results

    • Demonstrate, visibly, the results of thinking and acting in this way, and find people who will reward it (hint, you don’t need execs to approve incentives)