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#FailureWins - Call for submissions: Innovation, iteration, and lessons learned

Failure carries a stigma. In mature cultures gripped by the Curse of Efficiency, failure is bad. Very bad. The learning derived from experimentation and exploration does not outweigh the perception of wasted effort - a thing to be frowned upon. 'This is a results-focused organisation!' To demonstrate this, those who successfully adhere to established metrics are rewarded and celebrated. The message is clear: we want you to innovate (of course!) - but don't you dare innovate.

- Dr. Jason Fox in How to Lead a Quest

A new series: #FailureWins

2022 is shaping up to be a year that offers a multitude of exciting opportunities for discussion, debate and learning. The year starts with a bang with the The Air and Space Power Conference on 23-23 March held in Canberra. The conference seeks to explore resilient and innovative approaches to achieve national and regional advantage in air and space power. Later the same week, the Sir Richard Williams Foundation is hosting its first seminar of the year; Accelerating the Transition to a Networked, Integrated Force. The aim of the 24 March seminar is to examine progress in the establishment of the 5th generation force and identify lessons which further inform and accelerate Government and industry efforts to design, build, operate, and sustain increasingly lethal and survivable air and space capability.

Big picture, we can see the major crossover between these two events is the theme of innovation, iteration and lessons learned. Plan Jericho, launched in 2015, aims to support these core themes by providing a framework to Air Force personnel and give Air Force the edge to protect Australia from technologically sophisticated and rapidly morphing threats.

However, having a framework in place is only one piece of the puzzle to innovation. A culture that acknowledges risk and embraces failure is critical; such a culture inherently promotes innovation. In the TCB post Effective risk management in an era of strategic competition: An alternative view WGCDR Yildirim highlights that:

relying solely on a rules-based system as a ‘one size fits all’ to try to manage all manner of risk to prevent failures must be avoided. To achieve this there must be a cultural shift regarding risk within Defence requiring a concerted effort from every part of the institution. Only when Defence’s culture recognises that risk management is a means to an end, rather than an end in itself, can it take on higher-risk, higher-reward opportunities than its competitors.

This notion was further explored in a sci-fiesque vignette Fighting for Time: Conflict in the 22nd Century by GPCAT Phil Arms. His storytelling includes a timely message around reframing ‘failure’ into a culture of growth.

To successfully innovate we need to build the right culture; one that embraces learning and jettisons old cultural beliefs and stereotypical notions of success by embracing lessons from failures.

So let's normalise failure!

We want to talk about the good, the bad and the ugly of failure. What is it? Can it be done?

Tell us about your experiences of implementing culture change, the acceptance of failure within the workforce, lessons learned (and implemented) - both successfully and poorly and your suggestions for strategies that can be put in place to support the Jericho framework.

Submission close on 01 April 2022. And if you’re keen to discuss an idea with us first, be sure to email us at


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