It happened. You knew that it would eventually. Despite your best efforts, the project failed. It went over budget, or it didn’t appeal to stakeholders, or it just took too long to complete. In any case, it wound up on the cutting room floor and you are left to pick up the pieces.
Sometimes, our projects will just not work out. In the aftermath, one of the most common, seemingly unavoidable emotions is regret. Regret that you couldn’t have fixed the project. Regret that your team won’t get recognized for success. Regret that, rather than improving your standing with the company, this task that you were pouring long hours into might potentially damage your reputation.
However, there is an alternative to regret. Cliché as it may sound, the only true failures are those which do not educate you in any way. Failure is important, because ultimately it is through failing that we find the tools to succeed. When people talk about the value of jumping right in and getting your hands dirty, they mean it. You might feel filthy, worn-down, and beaten, but you will learn.
That does not mean that you will automatically learn from your mistakes. If that were the case, you would see significantly fewer companies in the news filing for bankruptcy. No, it takes a conscious effort. That is why we believe in the importance of accurately tracking all costs, hours, and activities at the per-project level. Being able to quickly draw upon a store of knowledge is immensely helpful. The more granulated the insight, the better you will be able to apply it to future projects. Learn from the past, and regret can quickly turn into wisdom.