5 Questions to Turn Failures into Opportunities

December 18, 2023

Consistent learning distinguishes good teams from great teams. Here are five questions to help you and your team successfully navigate 2024.

As 2023 comes to a close, it’s time to take stock of the year’s highs and lows. Celebrating wins is essential to understand where teams are strongest and most impactful. But what about failures and weaknesses?

At Candor, we work by a GSD motto: “Get Stuff Done.” Part of how we live out this value is by being eager for knowledge, which means asking ourselves candid questions to learn from our successes and failures.

Here are five questions for business leaders to ask themselves and their teams to go into 2024 stronger than ever.

(Pro tip: I like to begin my inventory process by creating a spreadsheet or handwritten page containing five columns for each of the questions. This helps to visually make connections between the questions and build on them).


What Went Wrong?

This first question can be the toughest to confront after a busy year. Either by yourself or with your team, think through everything from the major misses to the smallest annoyances.

Maybe you didn’t go over budget, but you came uncomfortably close on a few projects. Maybe one or a few team members were particularly overloaded during a certain quarter. When and why did miscommunications or inefficiencies happen? Throw everything on this list — big and small.


Did We Learn Anything?

We may not be able to control the unexpected, but we can control learning something from it. When I conduct this kind of exercise, I like to encourage team members to think through what they learned as part of their professional role and also something they learned about themselves.

It can be just as important for someone to take responsibility for better allocating social media spending as it is knowing they need to work on asking direct questions about the best way to allocate dollars.


Do We Need to Pivot or Adapt?

As marketers, we must adapt as quickly, if not faster, than the industries we serve.  By looking at what went wrong and what you or your team have learned over the year, business leaders can see where there are gaps to proactively fill.

Does your company need to hire someone with a particular specialty to improve performance in digital or business development? What training, certifications or continued education might be needed? Do you need to take more risks or less in experimenting with trends and new technology?


Are There Unexplored Opportunities?

By acknowledging and exploring our weaknesses, we can almost immediately identify where there are opportunities to grow. This applies to individuals as much as it does to businesses. This question is essential to explore when thinking about business development and team structure.

Are there team members who show promise to contribute more to certain areas? Was there a successful strategy for one campaign which can be built upon for future campaigns? Are there cultural changes such as remote working, flex time or regular team check-ins which could allow the team to do their work better and be happier? Are there any forgotten leads or business opportunities you haven’t prioritized?


What Will We Do Differently?

This may be the most important question to ask ourselves when practicing turning failures into opportunities. At Candor, we meet regularly as a team to honestly take stock of these questions so we can do our best work together, address concerns before they become problems and continue to get stuff done.

Use your answers to the previous questions to inform your strategy for the next year, knowing you may need to reevaluate and pivot as you learn more and the unexpected happens. There’s always an opportunity to be found when we’re willing to be candid with ourselves in response to the toughest questions.  

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