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King County

Failing Forward in action

Every failure can be valuable; failing forward means not only learning from mistakes, but also planning for them.

King County Government Employee

Top barriers to Failing Forward

  • Organisational changes have eroded trust and ability to work towards a shared goal

  • Outdated and lacking standards/processes to evaluate failure and success

  • Past culture of fear that connected failure to performance

Top ideas to embrace Failing Forward

  • Create a 'Phoenix' award to celebrate learning from failure

  • Host 'Lunch and Learns' to discuss historical challenges and failures

  • Develop framework to define and evaluate success and failure at the beginning of new projects

How to Fail (Forward)

A framework for fostering innovation in the public sector.

Drawing on our experience working with six local governments, we first investigate why it is so difficult for those in local government to learn from failures. Second, we consider what department leaders can do to build the conditions in which they and their teams can fail forward.

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