Interpreting Failure Research is Worth Checking Out

-\-\-\-\-\Read time: 4 minutes Coffeechug Shortnote = We learn from others mistakes, but not our own -\-\-\-\-\




Yes, once again I am dropping some ideas gained from reading

Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success

Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success

Another excellent read in 2014. Shane Snow is able to weave key elements to help become more successful in an entertaining and engaging read. I have not been this entertained by stories of success before and it was nice to not hear the same old stories over and over. Shane Snow has a real knack for providing helping tips and ideas and delivering it in quality format. More info →
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Buy from Amazon

There were a few pages that I just highlighted like crazy and marked all over.


I have read this over and over and then took it step further back reading what Shane Snow investigated. I tracked down the work of Bradly Staats and I went in and read Bradley Staats research paper



Learning from past experience is central to an organization’s adaptation and survival. A key dimension of prior experience is whether an outcome was successful or unsuccessful. While empirical studies have  investigated the effects of success and failure in organizational learning, to date the phenomenon has received little attention at the individual level. Drawing on attribution theory in psychology, we  investigate how individuals learn from their own past experiences with both failure and success and from the experiences of others. For our empirical analyses, we use ten years of data from 71 cardiothoracic surgeons who completed over 6,500 procedures using a new technology for cardiac surgery. We find that individuals learn more from their own successes than from their own failures but learn more from the failures of others than from others’ successes. We also find that individuals’ prior successes and others’ failures can help individuals overcome their inability to learn from their own failures. Together, these findings offer both theoretical and practical insights into how individuals learn directly from their prior experience and indirectly from the experiences of others.


This information is so intriguing to me because I view this as some real deep thoughts when it comes to education. The gist of this passage and the research is how we interpret failure. Here are cliff notes

  • When we look at own failure we point blame elsewhere reducing effort on future task
  • When blaming failure on bad luck, we tend not to change our approach
  • We might look for ways to explain the failure instead of learning from it
  • BUT we love to take credit for success!!

Here is the real meat and potatoes

  • When failure is not personal, we do the opposite and actually blame them for their mistakes
  • When others succeed we blame it on luck
  • When others fail we actually work to make sure we are not like that person and will work to be better

In education we often say we want feedback on our own work to only get upset and blame the person providing feedback for a,b, or c. Or we blame it on the kids and their abilities. When it works we want the credit to be a game changer.

Perhaps during PD we need more time to look at work of others. If we are not really ready to be open and honest with ourselves perhaps we balance the scales by looking at what others have done. This is where the Teacher Failure idea could come in handy.





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