Succeed through Failure

Learn from your mistakes, a course by Tim Harford.

Tim Harford

Tim Harford


Succeed through Failure
  • Overview
  • Episodes
  • Recommended for you


Whenever somebody turns a failure into success, something really unique has occurred-- how and why does this happen? Economist Tim Harford explores this phenomenon through multiple case studies, including how legendary choreographer Twyla Tharp turned a massive failure into a roaring success by having a successful mindset and a plan of action for learning from her mistakes.

What You'll Learn

  • How to approach fixing errors
  • How to truly learn from failure
  • How diverse viewpoints cultivate success


4 Episodes

1. Case Study: Fail Constructively


In this case study, economist Tim Harford explores how legendary choreographer Twyla Tharp turned a massive failure into a roaring success by having a successful mindset and a plan of action for learning from her mistakes. In the end,Tharp succeeded because she took a positive, straightforward and analytic approach to fixing errors.

2. Create a Culture of Dissent


Pixar Animation Studios, the company Steve Jobs acquired in 1986, has won more than 25 Academy Awards and made over $6.3 billion worldwide. The studio’s incredible run of success includes Toy Story 3, the highest-grossing animated film of all time. In fact, with the exception of Cars 2, every feature film Pixar has produced has been both a critical and commercial success, grossing on average $602 million, the highest in the industry. Talk about the Midas touch! With a track record like that, Pixar must be immune from making mistakes.Not true at all, points out the economist Tim Harford. It’s just that instead of preventing errors, Pixar is really good at fixing them quickly.Foster an environment in which mistakes can be revealed, exposed and corrected.Express criticism immediately, directly and with positive framing.Offer alternatives to drive improvement by building upon the current solution.

3. Fail Constructively: Learn From Your Mistakes


In this video, Tim Harford tells the story of psychologist Leon Festinger’s infiltration of a cult led by Dorothy Martin in 1954. Festinger studied the cult members’ reaction to Martin’s false prophecy that the world would be destroyed the following day. Martin’s followers believed that aliens would arrive at midnight to collect true believers and take them to the planet Clarion, but when the aliens didn’t arrive the cultists could not accept their mistake. On the contrary, as Festinger pre...

4. Generate Better Conversations: Create a Safe Space for Innovation


This episode explores group conformity. By the end of it, you’ll understand why your contribution is essential to promoting innovative thinking among your team members.Group Conformity DynamicsDuring the 1950s, American social psychologist Solomon Asch conducted a series of conformity experiments designed to demonstrate the powers of conformity in groups. His main finding was that group pressure can change opinion of even obvious facts.In Asch’s conformity experiment participants were told that they would be part of an experiment in visual judgment. Each participant was put into a group with actors posing as fellow participants. The participants were shown a card with a line on it, followed by another card with three lines on it labeled A, B, and C. The participants were then asked to say which line matched the line on the first card in length. The “real” participant answered last.The actors were trained to respond with the clearly wrong answer. The participant could thus either...

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