Failing successfully:How do you learn from mistakes and setbacks?

It may sound absurd, but as of this point not one week will go by without you gaining fundamental insights. Permanent learning often feels like failure. In the best case scenario, however, it is failing successfully that will see you and your project move forward. See problems for what they are: the strongest signs of life in your project. No failure is really a bad thing if you learn from it, get back on your feet and continue on your way. This requires that you grit your teeth and show the necessary resilience.

Example VillageOffice

What were the first steps in turning VillageOffice from a plan into reality? Remember the simple initial calculation that the project was put together for its ?co-working experience?? 20 companies were to take part and cover the incurred costs with a lump sum.

However, this hurdle proved harder to overcome than anticipated. While companies were aware that a change was taking place in the way people were working, there was initially still a requirement to work on site and nobody wanted to change this. ?We were too early?, says founder Jenny today.

In short, VillageOffice failed to reach its objective of 20 participating companies for the ?co-working experience?. Ultimately, it got pledges from five companies. And there was a large gap in its finances.

Initially, the team attempted to strengthen its sales expertise. After all, everyone was interested in the offer. However, even this didn?t lead to more agreements being reached.

A radical break from the original plan was then made: a new business model and a new target group.

VillageOffice succeeded in attracting new customers in the form of municipalities that wanted to remain attractive as places to live. The team supported the municipalities in opening a new co-working location.

It soon became apparent that this new approach was not only allowing VillageOffice to fill the gap in its finances, but also actively expand its network of co-working spaces.

My 0 to 100 moment:

When the next time you try it goes better than expected.

How it works

  • Manage the expectations you place on yourselves and others. This will contribute to how you interpret "failure" and "success".

  • Controlled failure

    Define what risk you want to take on and what you want to falsify.

  • Error analysis

    Find out exactly what didn't work. And why it didn't. And consider what you should change as a result.

  • Positive failure

    Remain transparent. Communicate what has gone wrong and what you will do next.

  • Keep a log

    This will allow you to trace every step retroactively.


An experimental mindset wins: stay curious.

Those who think they know everything better from the start will hardly learn anything new. An attitude of being willing to try things before forming a fixed opinion is therefore part and parcel of a pioneering project. Unexpected results from experiments will often see you embark on completely new and exciting paths.

Failing successfully:

with this exercise, you will be able to meet the requirement of responding flexibly.