August 2, 2018

Kevin Roberts’s Lessons on Failing Fast

August 2, 2018

Kevin Roberts’s Lessons on Failing Fast

Culture & Leadership

Running a business or managing a team is no walk in the park. Along the way, we realise that failure is unavoidable and sometimes even necessary. In this fourth video of a five-part interview series, we asked former Saatchi & Saatchi CEO Kevin Roberts on what we can learn from failure and how to make the most of it.

Below is an edited transcript of Kevin Robert’s dialogue from the video.

 

I used to take great pride in making 30 decisions a day — and getting 25 of them wrong.

But then 15 years later, I realised to my horror that I was only making 10 decisions a day and getting all of them right. And it was shocking to me because I realised I wasn’t growing and putting myself out there.

I wasted five to six years trying to be perfect and good and therefore inhibiting my own growth. So I stopped that, and now I screw up all the time.

Fail fast. Learn fast. Fix fast. And a genius is someone who makes the same mistake once.

There are so many errors you can make, and you need to keep making them. I went too safe. I got carried away with my own self. I was the boss and therefore had to be always right. I was self-driven, and I was failing.

 

Fail fast. Learn fast. Fix fast. But make the same mistake once.
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But now, I’m doing things that I’ve never done before. I’m making things up along the way and screwing up a lot — but fixing it very fast.

If you are afraid of failure and you do not have a system that encourages failure and you’re self-demanding because you’re ambitious, you’ve got to wake up.

 

If you are afraid of failure and you do not have a system that encourages failure and you’re self-demanding because you’re ambitious, you’ve got to wake up.
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Focus on the learning and the fixing fast. Because when most people fail, they cover it up, they deny that they’ve made it, and then spend hours analysing it.

Clients, for instance, are reluctant to ever admit that they’ve made a mistake. They’d rather analyse it, review it, interrogate the data, and position it.

But what you need to do is front up. You need to learn how to do it right, chat with people fast, take responsibility, and then fix it.

I’ve only ever written one equation, which is this:

failing-fast

IQ is intelligence quotient, but it isn’t the intelligence quotient that’s commonly measured in universities. Who cares about that? I know a lot of very bright people who couldn’t run a piss-up in a brewery.

So business IQ is simply such that we score people out of a hundred on their ability to fail fast, learn fast, and fix fast. That is business IQ.   

Take somebody who scores high in math. They fail a lot. They learn heaps, and they fix it. And they move to the next level at lightning speed. They are priceless people.

 

Business IQ is simply such that we score people out of a hundred on their ability to fail fast, learn fast, and fix fast.
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EQ means emotional quotient. Can you feel? Clients know what consumers say, and they know what they do. They have big data coming out of their ears and stand by their research. Everybody has the same stuff, but that is not what really matters.

What matters is not what consumers say or do, but how they feel — and knowing how they feel is your job.

You’ve got to be the people who empathise with your customers, who know the rhythm, the ebb, and the flow of the market, because your clients don’t.

They are driven by their brand, their business, and their problem. They don't feel. They don’t get up from behind the computer. And when they do, they ask a bunch of questions instead of observing and learning.

 

You’ve got to be the people who empathise with your customers, who know the rhythm, the ebb, and the flow of the market, because your clients don’t.
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TQ is technology quotient, and this asks the question, “Are you a slave to technology? Or do you use it to get to better outcomes?”

BQ is “bloody quick” because you don’t have an awful lot of time to get all this done.  

All of this is powered by CQ or the creativity quotient. Without creativity, you’ve got nothing.

 

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