It doesn’t matter if you fail. It matters *how* you fail. | Amy Edmondson for Big Think +

From Big Think.

There are three kinds of failure. Only one can help you have a better shot of succeeding in the future. Amy Edmondson, a Harvard professor recently named the #1 thinker in business and management at the Thinkers50 Awards, explains.

►Get Big Think+ for Business
Guide, inspire and accelerate leaders at all levels of your company with the biggest minds in business.

Amy Edmondson, a professor at Harvard Business School, explores the concept of failure and its connection to success. She challenges our prevailing cultural belief that success requires avoiding failure altogether and instead suggests that failing is a natural part of the path forward.

Amy also shares her three types of failure and outlines four criteria for failing smarter.

Read the video transcript ►

Go Deeper with Big Think:

►Become a Big Think Member
Get exclusive access to full interviews, early access to new releases, Big Think merch and more.


About Amy Edmondson:

Amy C. Edmondson is the Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management at the Harvard Business School. Edmondson has been recognized by the biannual Thinkers50 global ranking of management thinkers since 2011 and was ranked #1 in 2021; she also received that organization’s Breakthrough Idea Award in 2019 and Talent Award in 2017.  She studies teaming, psychological safety, and organizational learning, and her articles have been published in numerous academic and management outlets. Her 2019 book, The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation and Growth (Wiley), has been translated into 15 languages. Her prior books – Teaming: How Organizations Learn, Innovate and Compete in the Knowledge Economy (Jossey-Bass, 2012),  Teaming to Innovate (Jossey-Bass, 2013), and  Extreme Teaming (Emerald, 2017) – explore teamwork in dynamic organizational environments. In Building the Future: Big Teaming for Audacious Innovation (Berrett-Koehler, 2016), she examines the challenges and opportunities of teaming across industries to build smart cities. 

Edmondson’s latest book, Right Kind of Wrong (Atria), builds on her prior work on psychological safety and teaming to provide a framework for thinking about, discussing, and practicing the science of failing well. First published in the US and the UK in September 2023, the book is due to be translated into 18 additional languages.

Before her academic career, she was Director of Research at Pecos River Learning Centers, where she worked on transformational change in large companies. In the early 1980s, she worked as Chief Engineer for architect/inventor Buckminster Fuller, and her book  A Fuller Explanation: The Synergetic Geometry of R. Buckminster Fuller (Birkauser Boston, 1987) clarifies Fuller’s mathematical contributions for a non-technical audience. Edmondson received her PhD in organizational behavior, AM in psychology, and AB in engineering and design from Harvard University.