Firms told to overcome fear of failure when launching a product

Rajan: Failure is the biggest teacher as it provides an opportunity to learn and grow

PETALING JAYA: Malaysian companies must overcome the fear of failure and break free from bureaucratic structure in order to launch a successful product, says Dent Education co-founder and CEO Rajan Patel.

Contrary to the Western workplace culture, he said the strong culture of not making mistakes in Asia’s corporate scene diminished the learning curve of companies that sought to provide the right products for their customers.

“The right thing to do is to test the products and fail many times before launching the product.

“Failure is the biggest teacher as it provides an opportunity to learn and grow. If employees make a mistake, they will hide it from their bosses, which in turn suppresses their creativity, ” Rajan told StarBiz on the sidelines of the recent “Creative Leadership: Leading Innovation by Design” workshop held at Menara Star.

The workshop, which was organised by Star Media Group and co-organised by Center for Asia Leadership, is based on three frameworks – adaptive leadership from the Harvard Kennedy School; disruptive innovation from the Harvard Business School; and design thinking from Silicon Valley and Stanford d.School.

It aims to develop, in its participants, a framework and mindset of innovation and provide them with a strategic perspective of how to initiate this in their own organisations. Companies can look forward to participating in more leadership workshops next year.

Rajan, who is one of the trainers from the leadership workshop said the suppression of creativity in employees takes place more in bureaucratic organizations compared to start-ups due to inflexibility and high degree of formality in its operations.

“Larger companies assume they know the need of its customers and have the right solutions for its customers through a general market research.

“But, they do not speak directly to their customers so they become stuck in those ways to operate. Their method may work for a while but in reality, none of it will succeed in 10 years from now, ” he added.

Moving forward, Rajan suggested that larger companies should “constantly” speak to its customers to understand their emotional experience of using the product.

Having said that, he noted that a flexible and adaptable corporate culture for Malaysians companies is needed in the 21st century due to the ongoing changes in the demographics and technology.

Among the companies that attended the two-day workshop were Petronas Lubricants International, OCBC Bank Malaysia Bhd, Perodua Sales Sdn Bhd, Eastern & Oriental Bhd, Dentsu Malaysia, Aemulus Corp and Old Town White Coffee.

The leadership workshop received an overwhelming response by participants who learnt the tricks of trade on finding the right solutions for customers.

Old Town White Coffee general manager Wilson Beh said the workshop gave a refreshing perspective on managing staff by becoming more adaptive and flexible on their failures.

“ I learnt that I cannot be too technical with my staff when they make mistakes. You have to be more human-centric and understand the staff emotions.

“When the staff is happy, our customers will also be happy. I will send my senior managers to attend this workshop, ” he noted. Meanwhile, Dentsu Malaysia lead brand catalyst Janine Wai said the training was a positive experience which taught her ways to materialise ideas into reality.

“I also learnt that more time should be spent in planning in finding the right products rather than making hasty decisions, ” she added.

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