In the fourth part of our blog series "Development First" we publish a guest article written by Ulrich Tekniepe. Tekniepe is a renowned copywriter and expert in the field of communication. Based in Germany, he has been involved in numerous ad campaigns for the world’s biggest brands. Currently he works as a freelancer, offering his broad skill set in the area of PR, copy writing and brand conception. More about Ulrich Tekniepe.
When a toddler learns to walk, he will fail (fall) again and again. The toddler’s learning system operates with Bayesian networks. It unconsciously registers the positions of head and limbs, the movements of the limbs, angles, the tonus of the muscles and more, in every try. A combination that has led to a failure will not be used again. From several failures, the toddler infers that certain patterns don’t work. Step by step she excludes the reason for falling/failing and concentrates on elements which have proven to contribute to success. And each try is a serious one. At the end, the toddler “knows” how to walk and what makes him fall/fail. From that moment he might think that he never ever must fall/fail again. Short memory.
What is the reason for this short memory? A simple human trait: you rather remember the end of a process (and one or two highlights) than the process as a whole. And there is another reason directly from the evolution of our species. If your great great grandfather had failed when facing a sabre-tooth tiger you wouldn’t be here reading this.
This shows there are two kinds failure. One helps the person to learn, the other one is deadly. To be afraid that failure in general could be deadly or as bad as deadly prevents learning, inhibits progress. What eventually is deadly, too. What’s true for the individual person is true for a team, too.
The team has to succeed. And we seem to think and indeed do think that failure can be outsourced into training hours, education etc. And for the final in the championships or for the business challenge, there is only winning left. This thinking is flawed. Our opponents are well prepared, too (they might have the same thoughts). And: we never before have fought in this special final, never before have faced exactly the same business task. So, what is it like to fight in this special final, to face this business task? It is like learning to walk.
Development First! is a biweekly blog series, published every other Friday. The next article will be published on the 19th of December. If you like to submit an article for this series please contact us.