World class performance takes failure

"World class performance takes failure."

Failing fast & learning from failure has become quite popular of late but not all failure is created equal.

To be world class we need to differentiate between low quality failure (blameworthy) and high quality failure (praiseworthy) as described by HBR in their failure issue some years ago (see here).

This is tip #4 from my article (here) in which I share 7 tips to world class performance based on Felix Baumgartner’s ‘jump from the edge of space’.

To mitigate the risks over the 5 years leading up to the final jump every variable was tested & retested multiple times. There were multiple unmanned balloon launches, some of which failed.

During test runs there were also lapses in radio transmission & thermal challenges experienced. Felix himself did multiple test jumps at lower altitudes & on multiple occasions jumps were delayed or aborted.

On the day itself Felix’s visor began fogging up before he jumped, he had issues with communications but worst of all at around he got caught in a death spiral about 1 minute into the freefall. Had it not been for the 5 years of failure that moment could have been his last.