What Bill Gates and J.K. Rowling Have in Common

The Leadership Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question: What’s the best way to keep your company successful? is written by Tal Schwartz, CEO of ClickTale.


If there is one lesson my employees know that I love to drive home, it’s this: if you want to succeed, you first need to fail. Advising employees to fail before they succeed may sound counterintuitive, but I assure you it is anything but. If you want to run a good company, go ahead and tell those on your team to strive to do their best work. But if you want to run a great company, I dare you to push your staff even further. I dare you to allow them to break through their own boundaries — and the only way to do that is to encourage them to fail.

如 果要给员工提一条建议,我希望让他们彻底明白:想要成功,先要经历失败。建议员工在成功之前先经历失败,这听起来似乎有违常理,但我敢保证,这绝对是有道 理的。想经营一家好公司,你可以告诉团队成员努力做到最好。但如果想经营一家伟大的公司,你必须对员工提出更高的要求。你要允许他们突破自我的界限,而要 做到这一点,唯一的途径便是鼓励他们经历失败。

That’s because failure is what you encounter on the road to a truly original idea. It’s what history has proven, time and again, is the first step to creativity. Bill Gates knows it. Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton knew it. Van Gogh, Dickinson — even J.K. Rowling — knew that failure is essential to turn good ideas into truly fantastic ones.


So I don’t just encourage my employees to fail, I require that they do. Every employee at ClickTaleknows in brainstorming sessions, company meetings, and strategy pow-wows, they can offer anyidea that pops into their head. They can bring forth crazy, far-fetched scenarios for revolutionizing customer experience, and they know that if they are given the green light to put their plans into action, there will be no penalty if they end up falling ontheir face. That’s because I have faith in the ratio of 1:4. For every four wins, an employee who is truly pushing him or herself to think creatively will fail at least once. Otherwise, if they’re hitting so-called“homeruns” every time, then it’s imperative as a leader to take a closer look at their performance.

因 此,我不仅会鼓励员工经历失败,而且会要求他们这样做。ClickTale的每一名员工都知道,在头脑风暴会议、公司会议和战略活动上,他们可以提出脑海 中闪过的任何想法。他们提出的彻底改革客户体验的方案,可以是疯狂的、牵强附会的,但他们知道,如果公司同意将这些方案付诸实施,即便最终失败,他们也不 会面临任何惩罚。这是因为我相信1:4法则,也就是说,每一位真正驱使自己进行创造性思考的员工,每经历四次成功时,会至少经历一次失败。相反,如果他们 每次都能成功,领导者便有必要认真研究一下他们的绩效。

So how do you create an environment where your employees feel comfortable failing? Quite honestly, you can set the stage any way you like. At ClickTale, we prefer good, old-fashioned praise. Highlight a staffer’s failed venture at a company-wide meeting, focusing on the courage, creative thinking, and gumption that was required for them to offer the idea and attempt to see it through. Or you can go a more elementary route, and provide financial bonuses, sweet treats, or whatever sort of positive reinforcement that jives well with your company and its unique culture. The reward itself is unimportant. What matters is that you create the right environment to really get your staff pushing themselves further.

那 么,我们如何创造一种安心的环境,让员工可以坦然面对失败?坦率地说,你可以任意创建这种环境。在ClickTale,我们更乐于采用一种传统方式,那就 是不吝褒奖。在公司会议上表扬一名员工失败的尝试,重点强调他们在提出想法,以及在尝试的过程中所表现出来的勇气、创造性思维和进取精神。你也可以采取更 基础的方式,比如提供经济奖励、甜食,或者结合那些符合公司独特的企业文化的各种正面因素。奖励方式本身并不重要。重要的是,创造出适当的环境,真正促使 员工突破自我,更进一步。

In today’s ever-crowded marketplace, true innovation is scarce. Employees, eager to please and worried about holding on their jobs, need the right kind of encouragement from their higher-ups to feel safe thinking out of the box. So if you want to really succeed, create that safety net yourself. Encourage failure and reward it. Because only when you make it safe to fail will you pull away from the pack and start to truly succeed.

在 当今竞争异常激烈的市场环境下,真正的创新非常稀缺。员工急于表现自己,担心如何保住饭碗,因此,他们需要上司的恰当鼓励,让他们可以安心地进行开拓性思 考。如果你想取得真正的成功,就必须主动去创造这样的“安全网”,鼓励、奖励失败。因为只有让员工可以安心地经历失败,你才能摆脱束缚,取得真正的成功。