Failure is the f-word in international development. Unspoken in polite company, yet a reality we all must face.

We often work in failed states, in market failure economies, on intractable problems that have stymied others for decades, if not centuries. How arrogant or foolish of us to expect success 100% of the time?

But if you read our project reports, we have “uneven successes”, “lessons learned”, and every other euphemism we can imagine just to keep from saying one simple word: failure.

fail festival wayan

Fail Festival

That’s why we have Fail Festivals – a celebration of failure as a mark of leadership, innovation, and risk-taking in pushing the boundaries of what is possible in scaling ideas from pilots to global programs.

We are on a mission to make failure acceptable in development discussions. There is great value in examining our mistakes and learning from failure as we go beyond the easy and the simple.

It’s now your turn to create the next Fail Festival – crash and burn parties around the world with much laughter as we navel-gaze at where we have all gone wrong in international development… and learn how not to star in next year’s Fail Festival.

Organize a Fail Festival

Fail Festivals are great as a workshop during an annual meeting or staff retreat, and are even better as the capstone event during a conference reception.

Fail Festivals are the highlight of several organizations’ annual conferences and have become stand-alone events in Washington, DC and London, UK that draw hundreds of paying participants.

You can organize your own Fail Festival, or get professional help to curate a great Fail Festival at your next event.

Are you still confused as to why we want to talk about failure, and not hide it under the rug? Read why we believe there are 10 levels of failure, and therefore we should celebrate good fails as innovation and learning.

Celebrating failure as a mark of leadership and innovation