Successes to show for it

Last week, I sent out an invitation to every full-time employee at Collegewise to participate in an experiment: The Talent Tour of Duty. Our Talent Department is responsible for finding new Wisers to join us, for onboarding and training them, and for helping everyone at Collegewise be successful and engaged. The Tour of Duty is an 8-week stint for coworkers who want to help us do an even better job in those areas. It’s like an internship, but not the kind where you do mindless labor that later masquerades as “experience” on a resume. We want it to offer work that challenges participants and makes them proud to put their team’s name on it when it ships out the door.

But it might not work.

What if nobody applies? What if they don’t enjoy the experience? What if it doesn’t make the changes we’re hoping for? All of those things are potential outcomes. It’s an experiment! We can plan and execute with the best of intentions. But like everything from prom proposals to sports strategies to investment approaches, all the diligent planning and best intentions can’t insulate you from failure. The only way to do that is to engage only in those projects with guaranteed success. And those almost never allow for innovation, creativity, or fun.

So we’re taking the risk. And we’re OK with that.

You can’t enjoy success without some failure along the way. Sure, if this project fell apart because we just ignored the work and the people, that’s an ugly failure. But if all the best intentions and follow-through don’t lead us to the outcome we’d hoped for, then we’ll learn what we can and move on to the next experiment. If we can rack up enough of those original projects this year, we’ll inevitably have some successes to show for it.