By Dinte
Jan. 23, 2012

Dinte Global Executive Search is starting to take action on a big New Year’s resolution: completely revamping the way the company goes to market.  This big project requires teamwork, imagination, and innovation.  To start the process, CEO Paul Dinte organized a meeting with a special guest to inspire the team to think outside the box.

“You have to demand innovation,” Robert Bies, Georgetown University Professor of Management, tells the Dinte team at a boardroom lunch on Thursday afternoon.  “But you also have to create the environment to support it.”

At Georgetown, Bies teaches a class called imagination and creativity.  He explains that companies can create an open environment where ideas are accepted and authority can be questioned without fear.  To create this environment, some companies create a “no penalty zone.” Employees can come to board meetings to discuss ideas and are free to challenge authority figures.  This type of environment creates accountability for designing and implementing innovative ideas while taking away the fear of failure.

Failure, however, is not to be feared at all. Bies believes that failure is something to be encouraged.   “The best predictor of change is failure,” he tells the Dinte team.  He means that when an area of your business model fails, it means it is time for change and innovation.  When failure occurs, it gives the company a great opportunity to develop an innovative solution that competitors may not have discovered yet.

Google often asks, “What is your best failure?” during interviews.  This question is phrased differently than the more common, “What is your biggest weakness?” It allows the interviewee to express how failure helped lead to an even better solution.  Truly excellent failure creates an opportunity for learning and preparing the business for change.

This practice is not limited to interviews.  Some companies ask employees to stand up on a stage at the end of year party and speak about success.  But truly amazing companies ask employees to speak about a great failure.  This tolerant environment encourages learning and growth in a way that perfect success cannot.

The Dinte team enjoyed the insight Professor Bies had to offer and would like to thank him for taking the time to speak with us.  We hope to use some of his ideas in our own business practices.  Read more about Professor Robert Bies and his thoughts on the Georgetown University website.

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