Philippe Araujo

Fail or Grow: just a perception of the mind

Philippe Araujo on

Failure must be accepted and also embrace. You can't be afraid of it. You need to accept it and then move forward.

During 7 years I worked as a consultant for Fujitsu, I was a process and a product manager. My mission were always the same:

  • Arriving for a new assignment at a client office
  • Getting to know them, their process and the tools, they use to deliver their services
  • Starting to change things bit by bit.

As a product manager, you are always in uncomfortable position, you need to juggle with clients, users and a team of developers.

Everyone wants change but nobody wants to change.tweet this

What is it to be a consultant

The harsh truth: It’s going to be harsh but you are a pain necessary in a business to help fulfill a mission that nobody inside wants to take. I used to say that a consultant is like a mercenary. A person with a specialty, a professional good at one thing. You were paid for a mission and you were gone.

You will not be remembered… In the end, nobody will care about, nobody will remember your work. Nobody will acknowledge the decision you made, the string you pulled to make it work and the sweat you put in the work.

It’s the fastest school in the world Being always on a new mission, a new project, with new realities to face. You have to be a chameleon. You have to adapt. Without adaptation you are going to fail. You have to forget a part of you, you have to be malleable, you have to move around, you have to stand up sometimes and you have to bend. Every discussion is a fight, every discussion will decide the future of your project.

The difference between two consultants is the ability to read people.tweet this

So you can’t fail right?

When did I learn failure?

In the early days, I was part of a team who were responsible to put in place a help desk product and the process related to it.
Two IT department who were solitude for almost two decades were merging and we were changing the tool they used and their process.

At that time, I was thinking that the consultant should act as an expert and should be heard.

Putting the table for the story...

It was what we called the kickoff meeting. We were gathering the future leaders of the product we were building.

What I didn’t know or didn’t recognize was that everyone has a past and some people were losing things in that merger.tweet this

Specially one of them, he was losing all his power in the new structure. He was the one responsible for the help desk product and with that merger he was losing that power.

And it went wrong during this first meeting

During that kickoff, I introduced to everyone what the new process rules would look like. He started telling me from the beginning that I was wrong, that I had the wrong information.

Failure 1

Instead of listening and trying to understand him, I decided to confront him.

Bad idea!

He was the one with power at that time, I was just a new consultant, young, inexperienced, coming in and trying to show that I knew what I was talking about.

It didn’t matter if I was wrong or right, the matter was that he was winning his battle. He wanted to be the one responsible for this project. The project manager at that time was his good friend. I remember that I was feeling bad after that meeting. So I decided to call my project manager. He told me how disappointed he was… That he was expecting something else from me...

Best decisions I made

When you are facing a defeat, you can stay away from it or you can go head on for it. After that call, I was shaky. I was thinking that I was about to be fired. My first game in the major league and I was about to be fired…

Good job Champ!

I decided to have a chat with my senior colleague to help me figure out what I could do and what he was thinking about the situation.

I remember his words and I still believe in them today. And I thank him for that. He told me:

“You are pushing yourself out of this project!"

Getting beaten and falling to the mat is the best lesson I learned

It didn’t strike me at first, but he was giving me the best lesson as a consultant in my life. After that day, I changed my behaviour. I started to act as a facilitator with the people I was working with. Everyone was on my side and I was on theirs. I was there to help them put in place the best product they wanted and the processes to support it they wanted. There is much more to say on that experience but that is not the point.

3 lessons learned from that experience...

If I hadn’t fail, I would not have learnt The strongest the defeat, the more you are able to wake up, stand up and say that it was not enough. If you don’t disturb, it’s because you don’t go far enough Failing don’t come because you do what as been expected because you follow the rules. Failing comes because you want to go further, you want to reach the extra mile. Being relentlessly obsessed by becoming the best, by knowing more, by improving your skills. That’s what brought me to that situation, and that’s what brought me to others.

I used all those lessons. I use them for building my app, I use them for being a good scrum master/project manager, for being a good product manager.

One last thing: don’t be proud of it!

Don’t put words in my mouth, you shouldn’t plan to fail!

I know there is a trend in the startup world to celebrate failure and to be proud of it.

Let’s be clear: there is nothing to be proud. I am not proud of my failures. I am not ashamed ever, I can talk about it without any constraints.

You should always learn from it whether it’s a failure or a success. It’s important to always move forward. If you move forward, everything is going to be alright.

Comment, share like it will be awesome.
Have you experienced failure? how did you get one with it?

Tell me what you think to join me directly on Twitter at @philnpa

Philippe Araujo London
Phil is one of the co-founder of ReponseIO and works on building the best product ever. Living in London, he enjoys drinking whisky & coffee, discover new places, good food and hit the gym.