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Admitting failure, finding success and improving development

A new website was launched on January 14th 2011 to help development agencies and individuals admit to, and grow from failure. According to SA Node, “we need to ‘wallow in failure’ – Beinhocker’s description of the US military’s determination to learn from past defeats. Failure is the essential engine of evolution, as much as success. We need to admit it, study it, learn from it (but then stop funding it….).”

According to the website Admitting Failure is “learning from what’s not working, and creating space for what is.”

Implications from Institute for the Future:
When looking at the comments on the website we see that the development community is ready for and interested in this line of dialogue. We are in the process of changing the stories we share around failure. Because most development is donor driven, admitting failure has traditionally not been possible less you risk loosing your funding. In this way, development initiatives have been spun to be successful as much as possible.

The changing attitude around failure is creating space for a more flexible, agile, and open development community, and hopefully more successful. According to SA Node, failure is an essential pathway to success and evolution and this in turn is essential in development. “The purpose of development interventions, whether by states, companies, civil society organizations or aid donors, must move from deluded attempts at ‘creation’ of development from blueprints, first principles etc to acceleration of the evolutionary process that drives development in the real world.”

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