Fail Better: Design Smart Mistakes and Succeed Sooner

by Anjali Sastry and Kara Penn


Whether you’re rolling out a new product from a city-view office or rolling up your sleeves to deliver a social service in the field, learning why and how to embrace failure can help you do better, faster. Smart leaders, entrepreneurs, and change agents design their innovation projects with a key idea in mind: ensure that every failure is maximally useful.

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  • Launch every innovation project with the right groundwork so you can optimize your end results.
  • Build and refine ideas, products and services through iterative action.
  • Support efficient, productive habits that link action and reflection.
  • Identify and embed the learning so you can succeed sooner.


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About the Author

Anjali Sastry is a senior lecturer at MIT Sloan School of Management and lecturer in the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Her research investigates global health delivery and management, applying systems thinking and practical, business-based approaches in low-resource settings. She has conducted numerous filed studies and collaborative action projects in Africa and Asia and advises and teaches internationally.  

Kara Penn is cofounder and principal consultant at Mission Spark, where she works on the front lines of practical management to implement new approaches in complex settings. She has led award-winning community collaboratives; designed, managed and evaluated multiyear social change initiatives; and guided more than 60 NGOs, social enterprises, corporations, and foundations. Several prestigious fellowship programs, including Coro, Watson, and Forté, have recognized her leadership and community contributions.

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