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Denise Lee Yohn - Brand as Business™ Brief

05.10.11 vol 036

Hello Friends and Colleagues!

A recent issue of the Harvard Business Review really inspired me…to fail!

Forget about striving for success!  HBR's Failure Issue laid out the many reasons why failure is a good thing. 

In a few weeks I’ll be running on my blog a mini-series of recaps from the issue – so in this brief, I give you:

-  a sneak preview of the choice takeaways from HBR’s Failure Issue – helpful learnings on managing yourself (through self-awareness and assessment), others (with expectations and empathy), and the process of learning through failure (with deliberate and designed failures)

-  a couple of other instructive reads on the topic of failure – about Dyson and Corner Bakery

Former P&G CEO A.G. Lafley says, “I think of my failures as a gift.”  I hope this brief will help you see yours that way too!


P.S. As always, I’m listening:  mail@deniseleeyohn.com

Inspired to Fail

As an uber-competitive overachiever, I’ve always had trouble with failure.  (Just ask my husband who refuses to play board games with me so he doesn’t have to deal with my inevitable sore loser attitude!)  But last month’s Harvard Business Review gave me some fresh perspectives on failure. 

My main takeaways were about the importance of:

1.  awareness and assessment of myself

A couple of consultant/educators identified 11 personality types likely to have dysfunctional reactions to failure. 

For example, “Wary Watchers” are smart but overly sensitive to criticism and always on the lookout for betrayal, while “Martyrs” accept more blame than they deserve in order to preserve work relationships.  As much as I hate to admit it, I saw myself in some of the descriptions. 

But as the authors suggested, while the first step is to recognize these tendencies, it’s most important to overcome them.  One way to do this is to reflect on challenging events or jobs in your career and consider how you handled them and what you could have done better.  Another is to ask trusted colleagues or mentors to evaluate your reactions and explanations for failure.

2.  expectations of and empathy with others

The issue’s focal piece advocated that leaders must build an environment where people feel safe to help spot existing and pending failures and to learn from them.  One critical practice in doing so is framing the work accurately

People need a shared understanding of the kinds of failures that are to be expected and why openness and collaboration are important for surfacing and learning from them.  “Accurate framing detoxifies failure.

3.  deliberate and designed learning

Exceptional organizations are those that go beyond detecting and analyzing failures and try to generate intelligent ones for the express purpose of learning and innovating.” 

To set up a genuinely useful pilot project, the organization should ask:

-  Is the pilot being tested under typical circumstances (rather than optimal conditions)?
-  Do the employees, customers, and resources represent the firm’s real operating environment?
-  Is the goal of the pilot to learn as much as possible (rather than to demonstrate the value of the proposed offering)?
-  Is the goal of learning well understood by all employees and managers?
-  Is it clear that compensation and performance reviews are not based on a successful outcome for the pilot?
-  Were explicit changes made as a result of the pilot test?

Check my blog beginning 05.23.11 for a mini-series on failure or subscribe to the feed so you don’t miss it 

Instructive Articles on Failure

Although it’s usually the successful case studies that make headlines, the following articles feature instructive failure stories:
No Innovator’s Dilemma Here: In Praise of Failure -- It took James Dyson 5,127 prototypes to get his vacuum cleaner right.

Retail Customer Service Failure Recovery Strategies That Repair Relationships -- How the Corner Bakery team recovered from a service delivery failure.


Service Spotlight: MASTERMIND Groups

Participate in a MASTERMIND group for the unique opportunity to get my guidance and support along with the perspectives and feedback of your peers.
Groups include:
-  Weekly one-hour conference calls including guided discussion and expert instruction from me, input and feedback from other MASTERMIND group members, and opportunities to ask questions on hot issues you’re working on
-  Pre-work and homework assignments to guide “on-your-own” thinking
-  Ongoing personal email support from me
-  Ongoing group message forum

Each group covers a four-week series -- each series focuses on a key brand-building topic. 
Example series -- Craft a competitive brand positioning to differentiate your brand and gain the competitive edge.
week 1:  target audience and competitive frame of reference
week 2:  differentiating value and reasons to believe
week 3:  putting it all together
week 4:  tactics to support and promote your brand positioning

***First group for owners and managers for health, fitness, and wellness businesses starts in June; membership must be confirmed by 05.23.11.

Download an overview and contact me to learn more.

Discover how my other “brand as business” services help business leaders in all industries achieve their brand and business objectives.

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Denise Lee Yohn has been inspiring and teaching companies how to operationalize their brands to grow their businesses for over 20 years. World-class brands including Sony, Frito-Lay, Burger King, and Nautica have called on Denise, an established speaker, author, and consulting partner. For more information, visit www.deniseleeyohn.com
Denise Lee Yohn

denise lee yohn, inc.
917-446-9325  |  @deniseleeyohn
mail@deniseleeyohn.com  |  www.deniseleeyohn.com