Summary of The Other “F” Word

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If you fail big at a particular goal, you can almost count on never failing at that thing again. As the saying goes, “Once bitten, twice shy.” Authors John Danner and Mark Coopersmith explain how failure can serve as a valuable “strategic resource” for any organization. They show how you and your employees can leverage failure so that it becomes an asset, not a liability. The authors teach you to think about failure in light of Thomas Edison’s approach, which they paraphrase as: “I have not failed. I’ve successfully found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” This is a terrific, solid manual. Its only drawback is its suggestive title – and its use of that other word, so consider yourself warned. getAbstract otherwise recommends this intelligent look at a difficult topic to executives, managers, entrepreneurs, HR officers, and anyone determined to learn from failure and succeed in the long run.

About the Authors

John Danner teaches at the University of California, Berkeley and at Princeton University. Mark Coopersmith is a senior fellow at the University of California, Berkeley.



If Something Can Go Wrong, It Will

Sooner or later, like death and taxes, failure is inevitable. Take, for example, Franklin Chang Diaz – a physicist, engineer and company president. He’s also a former astronaut who “shares the record” for the most trips to outer space. Having enjoyed success and survived failure in various high-profile venues, Diaz explains, “Things usually don’t work out the way you’d planned, so you just have to learn to be patient, deal with problems as they arise and move on.”

Something went wrong on every single flight Diaz made into space. On one flight, the cooling system of Atlantis failed, almost forcing the space shuttle to make an emergency landing in Africa. On another flight, an electrical conducting cable failed, creating a potential problem that could have dangerously tangled the shuttle with an experimental spacecraft that was in the vicinity. Diaz has an intimate and hard-won understanding of failure. “I expect I will fail,” says Diaz. “I can condition myself psychologically to think about how I will react when failure does happen.” He even encourages failure. “I try to ensure smaller failures from which I can recover rather...

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