How Can Companies Learn From Failure?


Failure in technology is very different than failure in business. If you are trying to develop a new product, something that hasn't been done before, failure means you just keep trying. You have simply found another way that it doesn't work. No one gets upset because you aren't expected to know how to build something that hasn't been built before. Second chances are fine.

In business though, failure is different. It seems to stick with you. The new product didn't sell? Oh, it must have been your marketing campaign. People don't cut you any slack, at least, not at most companies.
In business, like in technology, it is important to learn from failure. It is important to analyze what went wrong so that you don't make the same mistakes again. But I'm not sure how to go about it. How do you analyze failure with a project group in a way that doesn't end up pointing fingers and alienating certain members? I don't have an answer. I am honestly asking all of you to share any experience you have with this.

It is difficult for me to imagine a group of people sitting around a table discussing a failed project, and reaching conclusions that don't have negative impacts on certain members. Do you have to hope that your group members just take criticism well? If not, what are the ingredients for a successful analysis of a business failure when the participants in the discussion are the members of the team that failed?