Fast Failure in Psychotherapy and Psychiatric Businesses

January 27, 2012

Learning at Work

I’m in my office listening to a podcast from The Cambridge Judge Business School. Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn is the speaker/interviewee in the segment I am just now finishing. He introduced, to me, the concept of “Fast Failure” in starting new ventures.

The idea is that you want a new project to fail quickly. That gives you good feedback regarding its viability. Mr. Hoffman mentioned that when he worked at PayPal, innovators were rewarded for failing quickly.

No one likes to fail. We in the helping professions certainly don’t want to fail. But this is a very useful concept for both the business and clinical parts of our practices.

I am in the process of launching two promotional projects, one for my private practice and the other for my new consulting business. I will pay careful attention to the response to both. The most recent clinical campaign was a success, yielding several new clinician colleague contacts and a stream of new referrals. The one before was a failure. The changes I made, I assume, account for the difference.

Another point that is stressed in this series of podcasts is the importance of persistence. The path of a successful entrepreneur is never linear. There are always disappointments, failures, and false steps. The point is to learn from them and to carry on.

Finally, this is a crucial concept to keep in mind in our clinical work. In the past two days I have seen two new patients who had been treated unsuccessfully by their previous clinicians. Both these unsuccessful treatments had gone on for a long time, years in both cases. Had the clinicians been more comfortable with recognizing their failures, a different course of treatment would have been recommended. At least we would hope.

Are you OK with failure? Please share your thoughts in the comment section via the “Leave a Comment” link at the top of this post..

  1. Barbara Sadak January 28, 2012 Reply

    I find this a very interesting article. Many clinicians were never given a course or taught by mentors how to be an entrepreneur. Having married one, who was originally a banker, I have seen the hard word but and felt extremanure would be a more fitting term. The Dalai Lama says strong character has four basic qualities: determination, persistence, compassion and optimism. Watching my husband's success and his grand disappointments has instilled in me the importance of these values in his life and I have encorporated them in mine. In terms of your reference to clients who had been unsuccessfully treated by clinicians, I refer to the book, Power in the Helping Professions by Adolf Guggenbuhl-Craig. He is a Jungian psychiatrist who writes a rare and insightful book on facing the power challenges presented in the psychotherapy profession.

    • William Lynch January 28, 2012 Reply

      Thank you once again for taking time to add to the conversation.
      It would be very cool if other clinicians would join in.
      Creating anything, re start ups, is tons of work and frustration.
      But let's forge on.
      And good luck with the farming!

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