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July 11, 2016

Why failure should be a KPI

When thinking of KPI’s we tend to think of numbers and goals. However, we often forget about the people and experiences that lead up to what is reported. It is those exact factors that provide the biggest insight into success and failure.

Negative connotations quickly follow the word failure. At Nobody’s Fool we celebrate failure, we translate the word failure to learning.

Failure is such a fundamental part of the learning process because we’ll never get it quite right on the first try. In fact, getting it right on the first try is missing the point completely. The point is to try something. Keep listening, asking, building, learning and improve. Below we’ll talk about how to go from identifying to learning from our failures.

Dealing with failure is a measurement of leadership, hardship and usually a sign that you’re chasing big goals.

Banana slip up risk fall shoe


Before you can make the most out of failure, it is crucial to identify what it is. It’s never easy to admit to failure, and this is usually the hardest step for people to get over.

The largest obstacle we face is blame. Blame is a way to distance yourself from accountability, and at the same time from any learning opportunities. The nature of accountability in itself is a sensitive and emotional subject. It takes a lot of bravery to honestly say “This is my mistake, and I am responsible.” I recommend watching this 3-minute talk about blame by Brené Brown and learn more about blame.


Once we identify the problem we can move on to reporting it. Is your organisation ready to speak openly about failure? It is not an easy step, and vital that a growth culture is embedded into that organisation so we don’t fall back to blame.

Before moving on to reporting failure, consider and discuss the following points with your organisation:

  • How will people feel about the reports? What might reactions be?
  • To who will you communicate the failures? What risk and benefit comes with it?
  • What support will you need to keep up failure reporting?
  • What might a report look like?
  • Is there enough emphasis on the learning outcomes and the positives?


The purpose of individual reflection is to pick apart complex situations and create emotional ties to that experience. The result will be an action plan and better understanding on how to react when faced with similar past situations. Here are some example questions to ask yourself when reflecting, we recommend to take notes during this process.

  • What happened during that situation? Think details.
  • How did I react when facing the situation?
  • How did it make me feel?
  • What are some positive points I can take with me? What are some negative I can improve on?

We create an emotional tie reflection stage as it helps better ingrain the lesson and actions learned. We all remember our first kiss, painfully awkward experience when meeting a friend’s parent for the first time. But how often do we think back to that morning where we forgot to feed the cat? We are emotional by nature, leveraging those experiences will only help better ourselves when facing a similar situation.

If you would like to reflect as a team, Hyper Island has published a self-facilitated workshop for reflections as a team.

Three people reading, writing outside


As growth hackers, this is our favourite part. It’s about taking the action plan gathered from the reflection stage and applying it to future situations.

Failed to reach the desired CPC of your Facebook campaign? Not enough traction from your app launch? Got a wave of backlash through customer support? Think back to previous situations and apply your new learnings. However, being aware of what to do is only part of the improving experience. Remember the reflection question “how did you react during this situation?” be aware of your attitude and mentality when facing this experiences and it will make failing again that much sweeter.

Would you like to implement a growth culture in your company? All of our courses always includes dealing with failure and methods of learning from them.


Author | Max Less

Digital is my passion. I love coding and all things geeky, less is more.

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