Applied Improv Principles: Celebrate Failure

Celebrate Failure (make mistakes boldly)

In the article What is Applied Improv? I discussed seven principles of improv that apply in the work environment. Here I expand on the concept of "Celebrate Failure and Survivable Risk".

Improv and collaboration require constantly taking risks of varying degrees. Mistakes and failure are inevitable as we engage in taking risks and it is our reaction to those failures that define the collaborative environment. In improv, we celebrate the risk-taking and embrace the failure which is counter to our natural tendency. This means that we are free to move forward boldly and without hesitation, censorship of ideas, and critique of ourselves or others. Celebrating failure unlocks creativity and gives us the freedom to explore alternatives and find elegance that might have been otherwise discarded.

Survivable Risk

The idea of celebrating failure seems to be counter to success or, worse, endorse thoughtless, careless or reckless behavior. The key principle is that we deal with survivable risks - failure as a result of dedicated effort with the intention of success. The idea is celebrating the risks involved with innovation. The nature of risk taking in any group or organization can range from personal risks of sharing your ideas and building relationships to trying new products or processes. It can be easy to discount, out of hand, the principle of celebrating failure with examples of reckless behavior such as betting all of the corporate assets on a game of roulette. Quick reactionary decisions without due care in the process may not be survivable risk for a company, leader or individual and therefore are not the intention behind this principle.