Opportunity to fail

The supply chain is not the only place where our pipeline is jammed up. The pandemic forced businesses to hunker down and many projects were put on hold. Now that we can see daylight, hiring and promotions can be considered again. In light of the demand for labor, promotions must be offered or team members will jump to organizations where they have an opportunity – We have to offer them too, even if it is an opportunity to fail.

With young children, we have to let them fall if we want them to learn to walk. Don’t think this applies to work? There is a great story about Tom Watson, Sr. at IBM. There was a huge amount of pressure on him to get some deals closed one year to meet the market expectations and the Board’s expectation of performance.  The salesman who had the largest deal lost it. He went into Watson’s office resignation in hand. Watson asked him to describe his sales process. He thanked Watson for the opportunity to explain and got up to leave. Watson stopped him, refusing his resignation. He is quoted as saying ” Why would I accept your resignation now when I have just invested $1 million in your education?”

Because of the pandemic, but even before that, because the top of the pipeline is jammed with baby boomers like me, young people have not been given the opportunity to take risky new assignments before they are completely trained to assume a higher position. Further, if they have not been shown the growth path for themselves within your organization, they may assume there isn’t one. Given the number of recruiters combing through Linked-In looking for talent, you take a big risk of losing your up and comers if you aren’t giving them new challenges and opportunities.


This week, review your talent and rethink assignments to create challenge and excitement within your team. And, yes, give them an opportunity to fail.