Story Bias: Stories of failure


Stories of failure tell about things that did not work. They may be stories of big failure or small, personal failure.The stories may simply tell the facts or may well also explain why the failure happened. They may also include details of the consequences for the people involved.


Failure is a form of education. Some organizations invest in a culture of learning while others punish their employees for mistakes. There is learning either way.

J.K. Rowling did a great TED talk on The Benefits of Failure.


One of the significant elements of such stories is what happens to the people involved. If they were blamed and suffered significant punishment, then this becomes a cautionary tale that warns people not to fail. The problem with this is that the real warning is not so much not to fail as not to be caught.

This can result in dysfunctional politicking where the slippery soap of blame is passed around with pointing figures that point anywhere but to the person pointing.

More positive stories tell about the learning gained and encourage reasonable failure for this purpose.