These twin objectives of encouraging innovation and allowing personnel a sense of ownership of company projects are, according to the article, likely to yield positive results both in terms of productivity and morale.
As I reflect on a Fun/Fail Activity that stands out in my memory, I am inclined to think of soccer practice as a child. When I was growing up, it was common for most of the children in my neighborhood to sign up for a youth soccer league. My parents believed that it would be good for me to learn to be a part of a team, to play in a context where rules and regulations govern events and to learn the value of fitness. Most importantly, of course, the activity was designed to be Fun.
Unfortunately, especially for a young child, the consequences of poor performance in this 'Fun' activity would manifest as a sense of 'Failure.' As a result, soccer became a Fail/Fun activity for me. Though I was a good student as a child, my abilities did not extend onto the field of play. I was a highly uncoordinated athlete at that age, even though some of my young classmates seemed already to have developed considerable skills within the context of the game. I also recall having a decidedly limited grasp on the rules of the game and my role there within. Therefore, I frequently didn't know where I was supposed to be standing or what I was supposed to be doing. I tended to daydream from boredom during practice drills. The consequence was that during our weekend matches, I had little to no idea what I was doing.
It became a highly nerve-racking experience because I was most assuredly failing at an activity that was supposed to be Fun. The coach would frequently yell at me for being out of position, which made me feel bad. Simultaneously, I didn't get a lot of quality playing time, which also made me feel pretty bad. By and large, the imperative to have fun while playing soccer became increasingly difficult because I had come to associate the experience with my own general and consistent performance failures.
That said, I reflect today on the subject and feel extremely fortunate for having had this experience. I did not enjoy soccer at the time, but in retrospect, it was my first exposure to so many forces that would be important later in life. First and foremost, my soccer team would be one of the first contexts in which I'd witness both examples of positive and negative leadership. As to the latter, some of my coaches -- usually volunteers and parents of other players -- failed to cultivate a love for the game, a sense of personal investment or even a basic knowledge of how to play. By contrast, some of the young players who were most blessed with natural talent would lead by positive example. These individuals tended to play hard, to exhibit the kind of willpower it takes to win and to even share some of their insights with lesser players such as myself.
In the end, I am inclined to believe that I gained a great deal of character from this Fun/Fail activity. While I didn't ever necessary become good at soccer, and while I often struggled to have 'fun' at the time that I was playing, I also would be hesitant now to call the experience a failure. This is particularly because, in addition to my first exposure to leadership both of the positive and negative varieties, it would be the first experience to take me outside of my comfort zone.
Today, I try to approach challenges that are outside the realm of my comfort or experience with boldness and fearlessness. For instance, every new job that one takes initiates with the unfamiliar. Adaptation is a critical part of success. Now I find that I approach the unfamiliar without fear of failure. The result is that many of these challenges are actually fun to face.
Bessen, J. (2004). Where Have the Great Inventors Gone?
Mendonca, L.T. & Sneader, K.D. (2007). Coaching Innovation: An Interview with Intuit's Bill Campbell. The McKinsley Quarterly.
Moosa, N. & Panurach, P. (2008). Encouraging Front-Live Employees to Rise to…