Embracing and promoting failure, within a health and social care setting seems a counter-intuitive concept to some. In the course of normal human development, experiential learning is one of the main ways in which we learn new skills, generate ideas and develop emotions.

Thinking about health and care today, what do we need to do to make trying and failing both safer for staff and more attractive? When was the last time you felt encouraged to test something out and carry out your own Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycle? We know that traditionally, in healthcare, new ideas are often introduced without sufficient testing (NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement, 2008). So, what can we learn from Pixar?

Pixar has placed failure, as a means for positive change, at the very heart of its organisational culture. Hollywood may seem a world away from health and care, but the belief that failure is necessary for success, is vital for positive change. I had a strong sense that this article was telling us to re-examine and change our organisational culture around risk taking and failure.

What will you do, as a health and care change activist to start to influence the culture in your team, department or organisation to reframe failure in a more positive and creative way?


Dominic Cushnan

This contextual piece was written by Dominic Cushnan, Actionable Knowledge Manager, Horizons Group, NHS Improving Quality @domcushnan