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Fail fast. Fail forward.

pink neon sign on white painted brick wall

As Tolstoy said: “If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.” But how does the pursuit of perfection begin? Like success, it is surely rooted in failure.

JK Rowling’s Harry Potter was rejected numerous times before it’s eventual publication and phenomenal success. Apollo 8 and Apollo 10 preceded Neil Armstrong’s immortal one small step for man and returned from the moon – without landing – in December 1968 and May 1969 respectively.

Rome, so they say, wasn’t built in a day. Indeed, long after its 6th century BC completion, its’ engineering proved disastrously fallible. In 140AD, it was the site of the world’s deadliest sport-related disaster when the upper tier of the Circus Maximus collapsed, crushing 1,112 people to death.

Yet, each year, thousands of tourists flock to the site of what was once the largest stadium in the ancient Roman Empire, enjoying the ‘perfect’ holiday in-between the Aventine and Palatine Hills.

The technology sector is equally familiar with the concept of failure as a driver for progress. Remember the Apple Newton? Or Microsoft’s Zune? Do you recall Amazon’s Fire Phone hardly setting the world alight? The Blackberry? Going back further, Betamax was an abject failure that spent 40 years in its death throes while Sony refused to let it pass quietly and with dignity.

But all these false-starts, these mistakes, these blemishes on the face of innovation have been steep learning curves. Their demise has not been in vain. Only by looking at what went badly can we future-proof initiatives, processes and products so that best practice can be achieved. This is equally true of the public sector, where citizen-centric and place-based services depend upon facing challenges with a fail fast, fail forwards approach. One that’s built not just on sharing our successes but on talking openly and confidently about what’s gone wrong too.

Finding a safe place to do this can be problematic. If it’s not personal confidence holding people back, it can be external pressure to keep lips firmly sealed. For example, no one wants to feel the wrath of an angry comms team who believe the core message must be always right and right first time.

Through its programme of national and regional events, Socitm is challenging this. Our developing network is a safe place to share experiences whether good or bad. Through collaboration and discussion, our members can affect positive change. They are better able to improve service delivery in the communities they serve without reinventing the wheel or – worse still – sticking them on a Hillman Imp.

Our national and local events bring our network of members and partners together. They strengthen relationships, inspire innovation and provide a platform for sharing best practice. High-calibre speakers and interactive workshops offer delegates unique insights and knowledge of specific value to our sector. Our 2020 schedule is now complete, and registrations are open now. Our scalable membership packages each include complementary delegate places. Use them. Join us. Share.