What Would You Do If You Could Not Fail?

Mitch HobishGrowth, Innovation, Leadership, Productivity

I came across this question recently via two different communications channels (Wired magazine and a YouTube video), both referring to the same person.

That person is Regina Dugan, who—until March 2012—was director of the Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency, or DARPA.

She left DARPA to move to Google, and faced lots of criticism for the way she allocated work to organizations with which she may have had a (shall we say) tighter connection than is entirely kosher—or so it is claimed.

This notwithstanding, by creating and fostering a creative environment where just about anything was an acceptable avenue of research, Dr. Dugan allowed DARPA staff, grantees, and contractors room to move into spaces where their activities were limited only by their imaginations—and, to be sure, their ability to communicate their ideas to those who hold the purse strings.

This video of a recent TED presentation says it all, and is worth about a half-hour of your attention. Some are put off by her approach and attitude. If you find yourself reacting on that level, please try to focus on what she was able to do, not her style.

(If you’re not familiar with TED, click here to find out more.)

Questions: What would you do if you could not fail? What are you not doing because of fear of failure? How have you reacted to past failures? Where those failures real or only perceived? What are you willing to do to change your response if you found it unsatisfying?