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When have you or has your team failed at the way y'all worked together?

Edited

I was listening to stories from a group that hosts people telling stories of failure. 
(Here is a link to the group, but please note that there is explicit language in the title).

It got me thinking: sometimes it helps to share stories of when things didn't go as planned. Maybe we're glad about it. Maybe we're embarrassed. But the more we share our failures the more a culture of "failing fast" or a culture of experimentation can be adopted. Whether it helps you feel better about sharing what happened or makes another team feel safer for taking a risk, stories of failure will help normalize that it is impossible for everything to always go perfectly.

That said, please tell us about a time when you or a whole team failed in the way y'all worked together.
*Feel free to remove names if that helps.

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6 comments

When I was in college, I was a student leader in a cultural group. I thought that the historical educational, health-oriented, or language programs would be enough to motivate my fellow leaders. And I pushed everyone to commit to delivering high-quality programming for the rest of the members, as though the value itself would be enough motivation.

I was wrong. For several months. Organizers grew tired. New ideas rarely came up. There wasn't a buzz of energy I remembered from previous years.

It wasn't until another leader helped me see that it was the camaraderie, fun or social aspects of activities and the emotional benefits of our programming that made leadership feel committed. 

Like # people like this

Hi. I'm new here. Still unsure how to navigate around but I thought I could share something here. Your post caught my attention as I come from an educational sector where mistakes are welcome, most of the time at least. We say that "fail" stands for First Attempt In Learning. Mistakes give us the opportunity to learn, invent new tools and stay up to date with the onward moving world. 

The example I can share here was a planning that we created. It was too vast and contained too many details. In our attempt to give as much as possible, within a constricted time frame, we created a heavy to digest piece of information which left most of our proteges befuddled and bored. Not only we had to look at the amount of information but also at our delivery methods and the relevance of the materials. We also evaluated whose approach fits the best and simply adjusted. This experience gave us an insight of various levels of abilities in our settings. Like you rightly mentioned, including fun helped to maintain the knowledge and keep the morale up. Now, looking back, it seems so obvious but at the time we could not understand why the marks were so low on that particular subject. 

Obviously, that was just a low impact mistake and we were able to rectify it without major consequences. 

Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this

You're 100%, right, @Evangeline Black (and welcome to the group by the way 👋). 

A culture that embraces failure doesn't mean it's a culture of constantly making errors. I see it as a way to say that it's okay if mistakes happen, so that a team may not fear trying new things...or trying anything for that matter.

As for your experience, I relate! I have a mindset where sometimes my eyes are bigger than my legs can run. Meaning: I want to do more things and want to flesh out details earlier than perhaps I should make those calls. Does that resonate with you when it came to your team memory? If so, I've continued to appreciate initial excitement...but only as long as its scope and communication are realistic.

Thank you for your welcome @Christine P_ Dela Rosa . Yes, that resonate with me as I have a similar mind set. 

Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this

@Christine P_ Dela Rosa , I love watching their videos, great choice! 

Like # people like this

You think a live event like that could work for our group? I wonder if that might be fun on Atlassian Community.

Definitely! Especially with some high level Atlassian sharing their honest failure stories as a good and inspiring example for others

Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this
Belto Atlassian Team Mar 23, 2022

The community will always like to meet Atlassians

Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this

OK @Anita Kalmane - we're doing it! And now we're looking for speakers if you or someone you know is interested ;)

https://community.atlassian.com/t5/Teamwork-Lab-articles/Speaker-request-quot-Fail-Tales-quot-a-storytelling-event-in/ba-p/1984013#M797

And yes @Belto we'll be soliciting within Atlassians as well.

Like Anita Kalmane likes this

I'm not going to point out a specific moment when my team (marketing) has failed, but I will do about every time we fail:

I'm not sure if we have an established company culture of "falling fast," but I do know that every time we have been unable to perform correctly, we have borrowed from agile methodologies the sprints and retrospective meetings to review our work, point out the specific things we all have failed, and which immediate actions we will implement in the future to avoid these situations to happen.

It has worked every time to keep errors away or at least to reduce the way we have failed.

Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this

Excellent. @Huwen Arnone -DEISER- would you say your team is comfortable in sharing failures as a result of the repeated shares during sprint or retro meetings?

Like Rose Eliff likes this

Internally we're comfortable admitting failing, given that errors are evident during the work sprints.

During the retro meetings, once someone brings up an improvement point (we avoid calling it errors), we all get the chance to comment on it. That way, we avoid repeating the same subject. Each team member has the opportunity to speak their mind about it and offer a solution instead of just pointing out the failure.

To be organized and provide value, we previously documented this on a Confluence page so we all can arrive prepared for the meeting. @Christine P_ Dela Rosa 

Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this

I bet that documentation helps more than just those on the team. Assuming you keep your pages public on Confluence, that's a "lessons learned" share that everyone in the company can benefit from. AND! It normalizes the practice.

Like Huwen Arnone -DEISER- likes this

Totally! We have the habit of documenting almost everything.

In fact, the retrospective meeting matrix we currently have in Marketing is a mix: the base is "stolen" from the documentation of the DEISER team specialized in providing Atlassian services, and the overall shape comes from the "4 Ls" play from the Atlassian's Team Playbook. 

Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this
Darryl Lee Atlassian Team Mar 16, 2022

Totally agreed with that. By sharing the failure stories, we all can learn from them and refine our processes/skills to avoid falling into the same in the future,

Within our support team, we do that oftentimes. Not to point fingers at anyone, but only for open discussion to grow together.

Thanks for sharing @Christine P_ Dela Rosa !

Like # people like this

Oh absolutely. I think sharing our own personal failures sometimes opens people up to admitting theirs and then eventually admitting whole team failures. But I also get that that's not the order of change in all places.

Like Darryl Lee likes this
Karthick S Atlassian Team Mar 30, 2022

Good one @Christine P_ Dela Rosa :) 

Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this

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