Failure Conference: the ultimate success?

An interesting slide deck came to my attention today via @JordanStone, which takes a look at examples where companies have failed on social media.

But the key fact is that the story doesn’t end there – it then looks at what they did to recover and the intelligent moves they made to correct the situation or turn it into a positive.

There’s a lot of interesting stuff being written about failure today – seemingly a growing buzz around the idea that it does happen and you shouldn’t be afraid to take risks which might result in it. What matters is what you do next.

This got me thinking about current conferences. Too often have I sat surrounding by another hundred people waiting for a presentation to end because the content doesn’t really extend beyond “we did this campaign, it was great.”

Success is a simplistic and boring story. It’s less valuable than a tale which involves mistakes, challenges and clever solutions. Sure there are ways to spin the yarn to include some of that spiel but at the end of the day, it’s not quite the same. Whichever the order, you need highs and lows.

The Main Event

Which is why I’d love to see a show dedicated to failure. I’m sure I’m not the only one who would be more interested in hearing a candid retelling of where things went wrong, unanticipated disasters and the best intentions. Followed by how success was subsequently born.

Such stories are rare, and it’s a cultural hurdle to overcome. But I think a conference dedicated to failure would take experiences and give the benefits of overcoming them to a wider audience.

I know I’d rather sit through something like that and have much more respect for someone who presented such a story than another over-produced video about how many hits the campaign got on YouTube.

Will we ever see a conference dedicated to failure? Would you advise your client to go? Would you attend?

While I give that a bit more though, here’s that presentation put together by David Griner ( @Griner) and Dave Peck ( @DavePeck).

- Max Tatton-Brown

June 8th, 2011