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FAILFaire: Embracing, Celebrating, and Learning from Failure in Government – May 7

Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failurethan to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much,
because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.

Theodore Roosevelt

But all too often in government, another famous saying carries the day: Success has many fathers. Failure is an orphan. Government employees can feel under a microscope, with failure trumpeted in the press by third parties to bolster their positions. By leaving the discussion of what doesn’t work to outsiders, we cede the possibility for honest learning from truthful introspection.

FAILFaire: A place where it’s ok to talk about what didn’t work.

When: May 7, 2:25-3:30

Where: “Driving Innovation in Risk-Averse Environments” session in the Excellence in Government conference in the Reagan Building in DC.

What: Three brave, fellow govies will stand before us for ten minutes each, using a modified version of Pecha Kucha – 20 slides, auto advancing every 30 seconds – to tell a first-person account of learning from failure.

After the third presentation, we will give the audience a moment to vote for their favorite presentation, after which we will have a panel discussion with the three presenters. After the discussion, the winner of the first annual federal FailFaire will be announced.

Fine print: Tell a personal story (no blaming others, no humble brag) that includes:

• What was the project?

• What were you trying to do?

• What was the fail/where did it go wrong?

• What would you do differently next time (or never do again!)?

• What lessons can be learned?

Nominate yourself or a government colleague with an email to: [email protected] and [email protected].

We will be happy to work with you to develop and polish your presentation.

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Chris Cairns

I think this is a great idea. It’s certainly true that in some cases we can learn more from failure than success.