How To Learn From Failures Like Coca-Cola, Netflix, And Amazon

As a business manager, it can sometimes seem more productive and better for your business to shun and avoid mistakes. The ‘word’ mistake has quite a damaging connotation of loss and incompetence, which drives businesses to minimise them.

However, leaders of big corporates, like Coca-Cola, Netflix, and Amazon, have flipped traditional approaches to failing right around. Mistake-making and risk-taking is embraced, and seen as integral part of growth and development of the businesses respectively.

How Coca-Cola, Netflix, and Amazon Learn From Failure

In May 2017, Coca-Cola’s CEO James Quincey addressed the big fear of failure that he implied had plagued the corporation since 1985. 

He called the fear that businesses have to try something new and take risks the “New Coke Syndrome”, alluding to the failed release of a new Coke recipe in 1985. Consumers rejected the new recipe, with only 13% of consumers saying they liked the new beverage. Needless to say, it was quite a disaster.

However, the company learned an indispensable lesson about customer demands. In the month that Quincey took over as CEO, he encouraged workers to welcome such mistakes and see them as a sign that the company was trying its hardest. 

Netflix CEO, Reed Hastings, has long voiced his position on the importance of making mistakes. In an interview for The Motley Fool, Hastings shared how he had held this view even in his business ventures before Netflix. 

Speaking about Netflix, he said:

“Our hit ratio is way too high right now… we’ve cancelled very few shows … I’m always pushing the content team: We have to take more risks; you have to try more crazy things.” 

Like Hastings and Quincey, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos swears by experimentation as a tool for advancement and innovation. 

This risk-taking and experimenting attitude has been in the very core of Amazon’s business model from its founding days. Bezos’ states: “We will work hard to make them good bets, but not all good bets will ultimately pay out.


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What Can You Learn From This?

  1. There’s a lot to learn from making mistakes. Your organisation can benefit from finding practical ways to reflect on mistakes and record lessons learned. The best way to achieve this is to use an incident reporting platform. Encourage employee involvement in issue reporting and actively tackle mistakes for the improvement of your business. 

  2. Take risks! Nurture an organisational culture that encourages risk-taking and experimentation. New ideas (even if they fail initially) have the potential to transform your company for the better! So, make sure that your employees don’t feel scared to try something new.

Final Thoughts

It may feel counter-productive to encourage risk-taking and making mistakes. But, there is certainly much to learn from this management and business technique. While a few failures may seem disheartening, one success can easily outweigh them all. Not to mention how you can improve future attempts by avoiding the mistakes done previously.

Simply put, failing shouldn’t be something to be feared. It should be met with constructive feedback. This is why it’s important to have a good internal communication channel in place. It enables you to have open dialogue with your workforce, provide helpful feedback, share best practices, and learn from those mistakes that will eventually happen.


Are you looking for a tool to share best practices and facilitate organisational growth by discussing openly about mistakes? Falcony | Observe ticks all the boxes for low-threshold reporting, real dialogue, case management, security and more. 

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We are building the world's first operational involvement platform. Our mission is to make the process of finding, sharing, fixing and learning from issues and observations as easy as thinking about them and as rewarding as being remembered for them.‍

By doing this, we are making work more meaningful for all parties involved.

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