Executive Perspectives

Executive Perspective: The Fear of Failure

Failure is inevitable.

It’s also an opportunity to learn. Mark Chamberlain, Global Head of Infrastructure at ADP, lets his team know he’s got their back, allowing them to push the limits fearlessly.

Mark Chamberlain, Global Head of Infrastructure, ADP, on the Fear of Failure

Mark Chamberlain’s Perspective:

“One of the challenges with technology and being a leader is is the fear of failure. The last thing you want to do is to do something that causes something to break, but a lot of times you need to know where you need to push the limits of what your team can do, what the technology can do, and be calculated in the way you go about it.

“We’ve had lots of failures, but you have to use those opportunities to learn and to make sure that your teams and those technologists know that you’re going to cover for them. You have their back. Now, nobody’s going out and doing anything maliciously to fail. Technology is complicated and the way you implement it within your enterprise is even more complicated and it’s going to fail. There’s no way around it.

“You hear it all the time fail fast, but yet you see organizations not wanting to fail. So it’s as leaders we need to know that balance between both how do you fail fast but fail in a way that you’re not going to impact your enterprise.

“It’s creating an environment where people can fail without impact… whether it’s a lab environment, whether it’s getting their hands on technology that will allow them to fail in a controlled environment, but then also showing overtime, when things do fail, that you’re there for them making sure in the moment that you’re there to support them. Making sure after the situation occurred that you’re there to understand what went wrong, and how are you going to correct it, and that you’re part of the team.

“I think all of that helps build trust over time. Then your engineers start becoming more comfortable with what they’re doing, and that if there is a failure, they know how to recover. They know how to go through and solve the problem. They know how to work with our customers and make sure they understand what we’re doing but they also know that their leadership has their back in those situations.”


For more executive insights, listen to the CIO Exchange podcast: Agile in the Real World with Vipul Nagrath (CIO) and Mark Chamberlain (Global Head of Infrastructure) at ADP.

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