Fail or pay: PBS’ success formula

Fail or pay: PBS’ success formula
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PBS Digital demanded failure from each and every employee or they would be downgraded a post by its head of digital, Jason Seiken, on Harvard Business Review has reported.

“The story of our decision to create and embrace a failure metric begins, as do many business advances, with desperation. By 2007, PBS.org audience growth had stalled and the product pipeline was dry. Worse, the digital team was paralyzed by a deeply engrained culture of caution. Its top two priorities — a redesign of PBS.org and a new video player — had churned on for two years with little to show except a thick binder of product requirements from key constituents,” the article says.

“So when I joined the company in December 2006, I decided to deliver a shock to the system. Soon after arriving at PBS, I called the digital team into a conference room and announced we were ripping up everyone’s annual performance goals and adding a new metric.

“Failure.

“With a twist: “If you don’t fail enough times during the coming year,” I told every staffer, “you’ll be downgraded.”

“Because if you’re not failing enough, you’re playing it safe.

“The idea was to deliver a clear message: Move fast. Iterate fast. Be entrepreneurial. Don’t be afraid that if you stretch and sprint you might break things. Executive leadership has your back.”

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