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When failure is success

change leadership success stories Nov 10, 2022

Change overload.

In the entirety of my career, across organizations and industries, one thing remains consistent: Change overload.

There are typically dozens of significant changes happening. Employees are overloaded, overwhelmed and overworked. 

In nearly all cases, the answer is: We HAVE to get this project implemented, failure is not an option. 

Until failure is the reality.

Many organizations choose to burnout the entire team to get the project implemented.

So when a project team is understaffed and the warning signs of burnout happen early in a project it's a significant risk. Those warning signs include:

  • Missed deliverables (either on the project or in daily operations)
  • Apathy: Low meeting attendance or engagement as people are too tired to think critically
  • Fear: Conscientious employees will express doubts about the ability to complete the work
  • Anger: Surprise outbursts or frustration expressed in negative comments

It takes a lot of courage to raise the red flag to leadership so that resource constraints can be addressed or potentially even replanning the project timeline.

Sometimes the team can't do it. The timeline slips. A go-live date gets pushed.

It feels like failure.

The failure is actually a success.

It's the opportunity to truly change--how are we going to do this, but do it in a different way so that we don't burnout our most valuable resource, our people?


It's a leadership brand moment as it gives pause to evaluate the root cause and to choose a different path. In the case of resource constraints, does the team step back to understand:

What is the realistic workload we can expect from project team members? Can we create a resource plan so we know exactly how much we're asking and when?

Failure is a good thing, when it leads to sustainable change. Embrace the failure so it can lead to better.


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