Fail Club 2.0

Not failing at Fail Club is winning! Today’s regular Coffee and Jam slot made way to Fail Club 2.0 because it's ok to fail. The lessons we learn and the experiences we gain from failure are invaluable- a lot of the time not only for us, but if shared can be a huge help to others. Interestingly, though failure isn’t something that everyone readily and happily talks about, as success is much more fun to communicate, today we celebrated and acknowledged the importance of failures in entrepreneurship and testing ideas.

Fail Club 2.0 was very much driven by our awesome community. A couple of weeks ago we opened up the floor to our community and asked them to submit fail topics to us that they would like to share and discuss. We picked four suggestions and turned the instigators into facilitators to lead small group discussions and share the lessons afterwards with all of us.

Our very own Erica kicked off the session with the Gapfiller Case Study Comic about their failed Commons Shelter project. Their biggest lesson: don’t let your pride stand in the way of making the right decision. Even if you worked hard, put a lot of effort into it and will disappoint people, admit that you have let things get out of hand, that you may have lost perspective, but are now doing the right and responsible thing.

Our four facilitators -Summer Hess, Marcel van Leeuwen, Meg Christie and Adam Hayward- then briefly shared their story before we split into the discussion groups.

Summer Hess wanted to discuss one of the challenges her community experienced when launching a food cooperative. It all started well with a single investor putting forward the capital for the building and for hiring a project lead. However, after a successful grand opening, the greater population found the concept and the way it was done too boutique instead of being a comfortable space to share food, get together with the community, and grow the local food economy. So her group discussed the following questions: Is it possible for a project to have a single investor but still have community buy-in? What strategies can project leaders use to onboard the public through the entirety of the process?  If an organisation does have a public image that is not reflective of their mission or values, what strategies are available to rework its brand?

To get the community buy-in her group thought it was important to understand the tension between business and social outcomes and to know what the community really wanted and needed. To get there, ask good questions in your market research to make sure the wants and needs are covered. Also, examine other models and ask for help earlier in the process, even if you feel like you don’t need it, as a way to make sure the image of the organisation matches the aims of the project.

Marcel van Leeuwen shared his experiences with bankruptcy and discussed the following questions in his group: Are you are prepared to lose it all, and what risks you are willing to take? The biggest lesson from their discussion was, don’t be scared of failure, as your biggest failure will have been to not have started. Instead, look into ways to reduce your risks, for example outsource parts of your business that you are not very good at, make decisions based on your market, and know it well, remember to not just do what you love but also send out invoices to your customers. In addition, fake it till you make it, but at the same time know when to admit you don’t know. Most importantly, know when to get out, instead of going on: fail once and learn from it and do it better the next time.

Meg Christie shared with us her failure to obtain complete data for one of her projects within in the transport education group. They were looking at how kids prefer to commute to school and did a survey that showed that a high percentage of kids prefered to use scooters to go to school, so the idea was to give away scooters to kids, to promote this active way of transport. However, going over the collected data again, they discovered that they didn’t ask the most important questions: what the intention of the kids were for future use of transport and whether or not they already owned scooters. After re-surveying the same community, they found out, that those who prefered and intended to use scooters for commuting to school already owned scooters and wouldn’t need a free one, which then saved money, as there was no need to give scooters away to help with commuting to school. So Meg’s group was looking into making decisions with incomplete data and discussed how this can still be a ‘winner’ even if the initial data collection failed. The outcomes of their discussion were: make sure you are asking the right questions and find the right people to do your survey on, and most importantly even though you may have failed with your data collection, get over it, re-design your survey or sampling method, and share your lessons from it, so others can learn from it as well.

Adam Hayward from the creative side of things introduced his actual project he would like to start which is offering a space to fail for the creative industries. A place to learn to embrace failure and learn how to move through it. The theatre industry in New Zealand is turning out show-after-show with little time to breathe in between to reflect and has no real global reference points. So his group discussed failure and difficulties in the artistic world of New Zealand and how to create new experiences rather than repeating tested concepts all over again. The main problem with creative projects is the people who experience it are making it what it is -either failure or success- and the creative behind it won’t really find out until it is over. With space to fail, Adam would like to see the creative industries come together, to provide space for exchange and lessons and time to develop their ideas and projects. One aspect that was suggested to steer creatives into a better place is to get a different perspective from where you are, go abroad, work with different cultures which will enable you to be more open minded. Also, learn how to be and live as an artist, not just how to create and use the innocence of being a child to create, to be more fresh with your creations.

 Overall this session was a great success, with great community engagement and discussions. Once again for me personally I am immensely proud to be part of a community that is so inclusive, and engaging, which creates the safe and comfortable space for anyone to stand up and share their story, be it failure or success. This is a very special shoutout to all the note takers and presenters of the group discussion outcomes in the end. And another special shoutout to the awesome community we operate in, for being just awesome. Observing the different groups and the engagement of everyone, running slightly out of time as everyone was just so into it, was just simply amazing. We are very fortunate to live in a great community space where interested and like-minded people can make a difference together.

Thank you :)


- The Thrill the World Christchurch team, as part of their exciting event, Thrill the World, have a workshop planned tomorrow to teach the dance, meet some of the other zombies involved and meet some of the make-up artists that will be transforming people into zombies, on the day! They would like to invite you, your team, your available zombies, your best in-house 'dance teacher'...anyone and everyone is welcome! They will be in the Gloucester room, upstairs at the Isaac Theatre Royal. Tomorrow, Wednesday 28th September 10.30am - 12.00 approx. They look forward to seeing you, please feel free to contact them with any queries. 

- Digital detox, the breeze walking festival and the All Right! Amble all coming up this Sunday 2nd October in the Botanical Gardens from 10am to 2pm. For more information on the event and all the happenings, check out the Facebook events page here

- NZ Icefest is bringing Antarctica to the world with the Antarctic Air day on Saturday 1st October. For more information on the event please check out their Facebook page here

- Learn how to use your camera and the manual settings with an award winning photographer. Dennis from Lightforge still has some spaces available for the upcoming photography workshop “Hero” on Saturday 1st October, check out the website for more info and booking.