Stories of failure

Posted by  Shawn Callahan —May 7, 2007
Filed in Business storytelling

Ford Harding over at Harding & Company has written a blog with some anecdotes of his and others failures under the title of sadder and wiser. Here he has two good stories with strong lessons. Dave Snowden has often said that worst practices are more important in complex, unpredictable situations because it is better to know what to avoid than to attempt to replay a ‘best practice’ that worked in an entirely different context. And it is certainly true that people remember and retell stories of failure.

About  Shawn Callahan

Shawn, author of Putting Stories to Work, is one of the world's leading business storytelling consultants. He helps executive teams find and tell the story of their strategy. When he is not working on strategy communication, Shawn is helping leaders find and tell business stories to engage, to influence and to inspire. Shawn works with Global 1000 companies including Shell, IBM, SAP, Bayer, Microsoft & Danone. Connect with Shawn on:


  1. Ford Harding says:

    I also think we learn more from our mistakes than from our successes. A good request when interviewing a prospective employee is, “Please describe a mistake you have made.” In the answer you are looking for what the person learned from the mistake, not just the story of the mistake, itself.
    Has anyone got a Sadder-But-Wiser anecdote to share either on this site or on my blog? Please provide a little context about how you use it.

  2. Amisare Waswere says:

    Lightspeed Venutre Partners has an interesting blog on “Failure is an Option.” at

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