The success of a project isn't dependent on not failing; rather, it's dependent on what you do with the failures that happen. Much of the success that Grainger experienced in the e-commerce arena can be attributed to people being allowed to fail, says Ian Heller, senior partner at Real Results Marketing who formerly worked for Grainger, in Grainger's E-Commerce Evolution. "If something didn't work perfectly during the process of developing the e-commerce platform, 'heads didn't roll,'" he said.
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Instead, developers learned from what didn't work how to turn it into something that would. "The first incarnation of some things wasn't always the most elegant," says Grainger's vice president of U.S. E-Commerce Sam Kim. "But there was always something we could build on."
Accepting that mistakes will be made, and encouraging people to learn from those mistakes, can do more for moving a project forward than demanding perfection at every turn. After all, if people are afraid of making mistakes, chances are they won’t try out new ideas. In the words of author James Joyce, "Mistakes are the portals of discovery."