Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Failure as learning

“We can fail, but we can’t suck.”
Tod Bolsinger: Canoeing the Mountains

This is one of my favourite quotes from Canoeing The Mountains.
In a church culture which is encouraging and investing in experiments on the fringes, it's an important premise to hold. 
Unfortunately institutions, not least that of the Church, tend to be risk averse. 
History reveals that often organisations, in times of change, enter a self preservation mode, becoming inward looking, redrawng boundaries, revising policies and structures, hoping that tweaking and redefining what is familiar will ensure survival. 
But it is those organisations that can look outward, adapt to culture, be informed and learn from those on the fringes or outside the organisation that are more likely to weather the storm. 
An institution that is prepared to listen to and engage with a changing culture rather than defaulting to what is known and safe (and no longer works) is more likely to find a way through a constantly changing environment.
Asking different questions also helps.
It is the listening and engaging that enables experimentation to be better thought out and implemented  - and less likely to suck! 
Experiments thought through, even when their outcomes are not immediately clear, produce more learning - whether or not they work.
So, in this time of change for the church as an institution, a healthy culture of experimentation will enable learning even from failure.
In order to "not suck" creating a platform for telling the stories of experimentation and disseminating learning as we go will be important markers along the way.

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