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With adult learning, we are often presented with scenarios that paint the “correct” way to success – stories with positive focus and exemplar model behavior. Matt Donovan, VP at GP Strategies, talks about learning from failure moments: how sometimes seeing the wrong way to act can have a profound impact on how the correct method sticks.

The path to success is littered with failures. The question is: when those failures arise, how do we recover and learn from them?


Matt Donovan:                One of my favorite shows ever was called Renovation Realities. And as somebody who’s thought about trying to redo my kitchen and getting a connection with it, and watching these people have failure moments to what they’re doing, I have found that I’ve learned a lot more through failure than I have had through here’s a critical path to success. When you’re trying to take people on a journey to performance, it’s not just about saying, “Here’s the path to follow.” But sometimes people are going to go off the path. What do you do when you get off the path? What you’re trying to help them understand is that you can have a range of variations of challenges and problems you’re going to face, but here are ways you begin to solve them. And it starts with a failure point, not with a winning point. It’s not that you don’t need to tell a story of success and here’s how it gets to the end and what good looks like. But you also need to balance that heavily with here’s what bad looks like and how you can recover from it.