• Phil Venables

Shrines of Failure

I was at an event recently where one participant talked passionately about a disaster they had that they have since preserved artifacts from in a physical space, among other things, to encode the lesson's learnt. They take new hires and existing teams through this at key moments - like new projects, launches and other events. They find this an immensely sobering process for leaders and teams to reflect on the priorities to uphold at the time of major design choices. It was a private event so I can't share more detail, but this was an organization in a highly safety critical space where risk consequences have life or death consequences. But it got me thinking.

Most organizations I know that are successful at continuously learning and improving, often subconsciously but sometimes deliberately, build a library of stories about past failures and what they learnt from them. These become part of the fabric of the organization, seared into their collective consciousness so they are determined to never repeat that event or pattern of events; and are also motivated to never fall into the trap of complacency that was the ultimate root cause. Most organizations don't create physical spaces for this learning, they're part of the lore of the company - but I wonder if it wouldn't be more powerful to create actual physical spaces to "tour" these events, to be a true Shrine of Failure, to drive even deeper learning.

617 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

If Accounting were like Cybersecurity

It has always struck me how well the field of finance and more specifically accounting has done to standardize on its terms. This standardization is such that there is a general appreciation that when

Risk Management is not only about Reducing Risk - Updated

This is an update from a post of a couple of years ago prompted by some recent observations from a few different organizations. It seems there are still a large number of risk and security programs wh

Risk = Hazard + Outrage

There are four major insights that, above all others, have influenced my approach to security and risk management over the past decades. Two were, I think, my own. Although, to be fair these were deve