Failure is an option. It has to be.

Planetary Resources is a new company whose mission is to mine asteroid and comets. No, really. It may sound like science fiction and they won’t be bringing valuable materials back to Earth tomorrow, but they’re apparently serious about it and have the backing of people like Ross Perot, Jr., Larry Page, Peter Diamondis and many others.

As a huge space buff this really speaks to me and here’s one of my favorite things about the venture, from the company’s chief scientist, Chris Lewicki:

One important thing to understand about our company, we’re not a government program. For NASA and other civilian agencies, failure is not an option. But for us it’s the exact opposite: failure is an option. It has to be, just think of where we might be as a species or a nation if we only took on projects where success was a virtual certainty.

Failure is an option. It has to be. That’s a great mission statement right there.

Workplaces that shun mistakes make their employees unhappy. The reason why is simple: On the one hand they want their people to be innovative, creative and productive – on the other hand mistakes are punished severely. How the heck are employees supposed to unite those two demands?

As the Mythbusters say: “Failure is always an option.” And as we say: You should celebrate mistakes at work, not hide them.

2 thoughts on “Failure is an option. It has to be.”

  1. Perfect! Some of the best inventions were discovered “by accident”.
    I’ve also known people who have never stepped forward into what they really wanted to do because they didn’t believe they had it “all together” yet, so they never got started at all.
    Gosh, you should have seen my first web site. :) If I didn’t put up that first one, I’d not be up & running today. I’m still learning, by constantly improving on my current sites.
    When I was a teacher, one of the biggest challenges was having children feel safe to make mistakes, as many as they wanted. It’s the only way to learn and being afraid to “fail forward” is the reason so many adults quit wanting to learn new things or never experience the thrill of “victory over themselves”.

  2. i tend to disagree, mistakes are not failures, this is why failure is not an option! mistakes are steps in the process that has success as an objective..

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