Can LinkedIn Hack Failure

After reading An Open Letter To CEO Jeff Weiner Re: The Arrogance Of LinkedIn by  James Bliwas, I thought this experience offers something we can all can learn from.

 James’s letter is a pointed scolding of the leadership of LinkedIn in their launch of premium member services.


You can read the letter here in its’ entirety. 

Frist in modeling a growth mindset I sympathize with the hard working people of LinkedIn and think this blunder can be overcome. Also, thanks for keeping James post live and having the courage to expose your failure.

I have written much about failure the past year and I can’t resist sharing a few thoughts under the context of the very public dilemma.

The path forward for LinkedIn should go beyond phone calls and sympathetic emails.   They need to accept this failure, work on systems, and reject a fixed mindset. 

adaptIn his book, Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure, Tim Harford outlines the wrong way to react to failure:


As soon as things start going wrong, our defense mechanisms kick in, tempting us to do what we can to save face. Yet, these very normal reactions — denial, chasing your losses, and hedonic editing — wreak havoc on our ability to adapt.



“It seems to be the hardest thing in the world to admit we’ve made a mistake and try to put it right. It requires you to challenge a status quo of your own making.”


Chasing your losses.

We’re so anxious not to “draw a line under a decision we regret” that we end up causing still more damage while trying to erase it. For example, poker players who’ve just lost some money are primed to make riskier bets than they’d normally take, in a hasty attempt to win the lost money back and “erase” the mistake.


Hedonic editing.

When we engage in “hedonic editing,” we try to convince ourselves that the mistake doesn’t matter, bundling our losses with our gains or finding some way to reinterpret our failures as successes.

Frankly, most of us find comfort in our denial. We can rationalize that life is just difficult and other people and companies seem to have all of the luck.

 Part of the problem is that we put faith in big ideas and people rather than systems. 

Tim Harford calls this a “God complex” in which companies reward leaders with BHAG and believe that only smart people (“little Gods”) can solve complex problems — “when what they should really be doing is establishing systematic processes of trial and error.”

The God Complex is further defined this way by Harford.  “…you believe that no matter how complicated the problem, you have an absolutely overwhelming belief that you are infallibly right in your solution” or in other words “people who, in the face of an incredibly complicated world, are nevertheless absolutely convinced that they understand the way that the world works.

 Once re realize that mini God’s can’t save you company you need to change the culture.

 mindsetCarol Dweck the author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success believes the best managers are those with a growth mindset — those who believe in their ability to change and a conviction that learning it the way forward.


Organizations can have fixed mindsets, too — and in the war for talent, those that do are losing out on great people, said Huysse. As Dweck pointed out, trusting in the value of hard work and effort is not just a stronger predictor of success, but a much more powerful motivator.


“A fixed mindset doesn’t tell you what to do next,” said Dweck. “It provides no recipe for recovering from failures,” which makes it tough to take on new challenges where stumbling is possible or even likely.

At the core of a growth mindset on talent is neuroplasticity — the ability of the brain to reorganize itself with learning. It requires not just working at what you know, but pushing past into areas that stretch your knowledge and skills. A favorite quote of Dweck’s: “Anyone who’s never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”

In her article “Strategies for Learning from Failure” Amy C. Edmondson said “Once a failure has been detected, it’s essential to go beyond the obvious and superficial reasons for it to understand the root causes. This requires the discipline—better yet, the enthusiasm—to use sophisticated analysis to ensure that the right lessons are learned and the right remedies are employed.”

One of the keys to know if you are on the right track or if your plan is wrong is by taking this simple litmus test when failure occurs.  Is your failure today the result of a long string of bad decisions or is the failure of today isolated to the events of the day?  I think success comes to those who can interpret, categorize and segregate failures so that they don’t cripple their dreams.

No matter the type of failure, try not to fail, but if you must fail, fail the best way you can. Don’t try to avoid all risk, but set yourself up so that you can pivot from your mistakes. If failure paralyzes your momentum you need to recognize what failure is trying to teach you and then move in a purposeful direction.

The real trick is to be able to learn and learn rapidly form your failures.  If you have created a system for success (whatever that might mean to you) it is much easier to learn and pivot from a failure.

If you don’t have a system that helps you react and process a failure events you can get stuck, and in doing so, you don’t move toward anything productive.  You simply let the dark tar of failure simmer in your soul.

If failure is inevitable then success is contingent upon your perceptions, actions and recovery from a failure.  From that informed point of view you can rationally build a learning strategy to change your attitude, update your skills or knowledge.


I hope this both helps and encourages us all to embrace failure and learn from it.


If you want to learn from your failures click here to subscribe to my blog for in-depth content.  

Shane Lester is the Author of the new book: The Value of Failure

“This book will change everything you thought you knew about failure.”




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