Across the conservation and development communities there are understandable, if increasingly strident, calls for evidence that investments, strategies and actions are effective and producing their desired outcomes and impacts. But we humans often learn more from our failures than from our successes. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, conservation and development practitioners rarely report failures because of the fear of compromising their and their organization’s reputation and jeopardizing future donor support. Neither organizations nor individual professionals who have worked hard to be regarded as experts are anxious to be associated with failure.
So what would happen if we guaranteed the anonymity of experts and the projects they work on? Would that create a safe space for sharing information and experience to allow us to harvest the lessons offered by failure more easily?
The Failure Factor Initiative will be conducted without identifying the project, and without identifying the expert with knowledge of why projects did not succeed or why they produced unexpected and undesired outcomes. By using a non-attribution (confidentiality) approach we will be able, for the first time, to build a corpus of understanding about the factors that result in project failure.
This will speed learning and help avoid repeating failures in the future.