Mentioning the unmentionable

We live in a culture that applauds success but is reticent about or glosses over failure; we don’t like to talk about it, and in the world of work it is virtually taboo. Try inviting managers and experts to talk about the success of their business, their project or their approach and they will beat a path to your door. Ask them what they got wrong or – when they still had jobs – why they were getting it wrong, and guess the answer you’d get.

Why on reflection isn’t that so surprising? Everyone wants to succeed. Everyone wants to feel good about succeeding. It is a bit like the western approach to death. You mustn’t mention it, you mustn’t discuss it, it is rather impolite. Yet one day it too will affect everyone, ...

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