McCourt School of Public Policy

The In's and Out's of Embracing Failure in Order to Innovate

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About the course

We are told we must innovate to stay relevant in the market or that we must find new solutions to the current social challenges, yet we rarely explore and tackle head on a key aspect of innovation: Learning through failure.

We cannot create something new without the process of learning. That process requires us to discover that our hypothesis and assumptions were incorrect (i.e. Failing). And while we can intellectually recognize the value of learning through failure, high achieving leaders can still struggle with failing, especially in any type of public setting.

In this interactive workshop students will use Amy Edmonson’s model of intelligent failure to become more intimate with the process of failing. Students will identify current challenges at their organizations where they are trying to innovate, and we will work on new ways to frame these opportunities to increase the organization’s ability to discover and learn during this process. In addition to Amy Edmonson we will draw on the work of Daniel Pink, and Chris Argyris.

Course Goals

By the end of the class, students will be able to:

Examine different types of failures;

Recognize the importance of framing decisions;

Gain insight into what it takes to build successful inter-disciplinary coalitions; and

Understand how mental models are created.

Who should attend

This course is for leaders in any public or private institution that feel stuck and know there are more efficient ways to achieve results with their teams. This could be:

  • Government employees doing herculean efforts navigating the bureaucracy of the system;
  • Managers at companies interested improving their bottom line while keeping employee morale high;
  • Professionals at non-profit wanting to channel their organization’s sense of purpose into new initiatives that generate high impact and revenue.

Trust the experts

Andres Marquez-Lara

Andres Marquez-Lara is the Founder and President of Promethean Community, LLC, a social enterprise devoted to the facilitation of systemic change in Latin America and the Caribbean. His company designs interactive workshops for community and organizational leaders that strengthen and leverage col...


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