In 2013 Ashley Good won the Innovating Innovation Award from the Harvard Business Review and McKinsey and Company. She did not invent a new technology or new way of using technology; neither did she discover some new principle that governs successful enterprises. Instead, she was recognized for failure: her own and that of others.
Three years earlier she launched a website called admittingfailure.com. By her own admission the project failed. But trying to understand failure was her domain. Her interest in failure began when she was working for Engineers With Borders, assigned to a United Nations project in Ghana. When she arrived, her colleagues were all too happy to candidly tell her all the glaring deficiencies in the program and in its management. But when a U.N. evaluator arrived to make a report, all they would dare mention were minor equipment needs. Confronting the others with the dissonance between their silence in the presence of the evaluator but their disdain for the program itself, her fellow workings confessed they liked their jobs more than their concern for the success of the program. Good was prompted to explore the problem, beginning with the question ‘Why was it not safe to be honest?’