How to Succeed at #Fail

Why failing frequently and openly in online campaigns will lead to greater social impact

Michael Silberman is a senior online campaigns strategist. He is a partner and co-founder of EchoDitto, a leading digital strategy and technology team supporting the social change sector. More via @silbatron



Jonathan Warnow works to harness new media and social technology to catalyze large-scale change. He is a co-founder of, an innovative global climate campaign that has used a model of open-source activism to coordinate 10,000 offline events in 181 countries.


Ever get a sinking feeling after you’ve launched a great email, set up a great online action, built a thriving online community or implemented a perfect graphic? You know the one: a nagging sense that you’ve failed to truly move the needle forward on your issue--that maybe you’re just re-arranging the deck chairs?


Or maybe you were involved in an online effort that obviously fell flat--and then find yourself going through the same motions with the same failed tactics weeks later?


Failures happen all the time in our sector, but we’re all pretty poor at admitting it. After all, why should we go out of our way to make ourselves feel bad, or put our job or professional reputation on the line?  


The instinct to avoid dwelling on failure is natural, but for online organizers and campaigners this tends to take our natural human aversion to failure to some extreme levels. Many of us feel obligated to evangelize the benefits of “new media” and “social technologies.” After all, we’re working to convince cautiously optimistic co-workers and skeptical boards of directors that these digital bells and whistles are more than hype, and it’s often a safe bet that we’re making that sales job even harder if we dwell on mistakes or our (lack of) efficacy.


So we carry on, shamelessly promoting the power of social technology and parroting the buzzwords that reinforce our job security. A quick scan of our sectors’ professional listservs would indicate that we’re all innovating and cranking out an endless parade of brilliant campaigns, websites and gizmos; rarely is there any talk about the real-world social impact that these whiz-bang campaigns had toward fulfilling their organization’s larger external mission.


Instead of zooming out to assess big-picture impacts, we focus on internal micro-metrics. It’s easy to see why: online campaigners have near-instant access to statistics that claim to reveal, with oddly satisfying precision, just how well we’re doing. So we elevate the importance of empirical Metrics Of Success: click-through rates, conversion percentages, retweets and the like. And we iterate based on those metrics, testing different subject lines, page layouts and pithy declarations. But too often, critical questions are left unasked.


Do you know how those 346 Facebook “likes” helped you save lives today? Or can you explain how those 49 re-tweets will help change the committee chair’s position?


We almost take it on faith that upping these numbers is an end unto itself.


Make no mistake: more of our campaigns and organizations could benefit from a strong focus on analytics. Outfits like Obama for America’s New Media Team and have harnessed insights provided by web analytics to serve their missions more effectively, and they have tangible victories to prove it (Obama’s analytics guru is working to make some basic A/B tests more accessible through a new service,


But our challenge is not simply to create a culture of rigorous statistical analysis--we need a culture that thinks critically about real-world impact and is willing to see mistakes for what they are: valuable tools for learning.  


As Steve Andersen outlines so convincingly, we’d do well to think of ourselves as Scientists for Change. Or as Shayna Englin says, we must stay focused on Connecting Advocacy to Change. We’re beginning to see a community-wide call to support one another in staying focused on what matters, and the various missions or movements that brought many of us into this work in the first place. (The alternative is grim: a culture of distraction, where digital trees obscure the real-world forest, and we’re likely to waste the money, energy and time of our staff and our supporters).


Fortunately, times are changing and our space is maturing. Our exuberance over technology is increasingly giving way to constructive, critical evaluations of how technology is helping us achieve our broader goals and achieve positive social impact. There have been a slew of recent critiques examining the limits of the most commonly used online campaigning tools: the e-petition and the letter “to” Congress. Our friends at MobileActive just organized a “FailFaire” to examine how we can more effectively use technology to improve the lives of poor people--by examining the shortcomings of efforts tried to date.  


We applaud this trend--and seek to accelerate it. Both of us were part of a team that invested countless hours in planning and designing a networked online organizing platform for the climate movement. The program, and its custom or “white label” social networking platform, never achieved its full potential and was ultimately shut down. We applaud the 1Sky campaign in releasing a case study of this project and see great value in sharing lessons from our failures.


The social technology space moves quickly, and it’s hard to find the time to face the moments when we (and the technology we rely upon) have come up short. But it’s crucial. The goals we’re all working toward are too important for us to avoid these conversations any longer. And while we might not have the metrics to back it up, we’re quite sure that we’ll fail to succeed if we don’t collectively succeed at failing.


So what can technologists on the front lines learn from your own, and others’ failures? A few questions, ideas and resources to consider:

  • Shared Ownership: Who else within your organization or team assumes responsibility for success or failures online--just you, or is ‘internet’ ownership distributed across the organization? Movement-leading organizations tend to have staff developing, considering or implementing digital strategies at all levels of the organization and, as a result, are less likely to abdicate responsibility to a junior staffer.
  • Debrief: Make project debriefs part of your culture, and develop a system for retaining lessons and wisdom from campaign successes--and failures. Or start a  ‘Failure Fridays’ brownbag lunch event (h/t Joe Solomon): On the last Friday of the month, invite your team to huddle and talk about what didn’t work. Give your failures the respect they deserve and seed new solutions to experiment with and grow in the month ahead.
  • Clear Theory of Change, Impact Statement: Can you construct a pithy and plausible argument for your campaign that stands up to critical scrutiny and thinking? Doing so will help steer you clear of some of the more obvious errors that stand in the way of supporter engagement and real-world impact.
    • If you do X, it will help our organization/movement do Y which will help us accomplish Z mission.
  • Peer Review: Create your own peer review system--who are the trusted colleagues that can road-test an idea with you? Build your inner circle--your kitchen cabinet--of friends and colleagues who can appreciate the need for quick and honest feedback and never will make you feel “judged.”
    • Resource: We don’t know of one. Let’s build it--at WOC 2010, in the comments here, at a local Net Tuesday or through a post of your own.

Cross posted at Huffington Post


Add Your Comment
Obat Jantung Koroner's picture

amazon Plus Sebagai Obat

amazon Plus Sebagai Obat Herbal Jantung Koroner Terampuh
Jenis penyakit jantung koroner yakni salah satu yang menyebabkan angka kematian tertinggi di Dunia maupun di Negara Indonesia. Penyakit ini sering menyebabkan kematian secara mendadak dengan tanpa adanya pertanda yang dapat dilihat.
Penyakit Jantung Koroner dapat terjadi karna tidak seimbangnya antara kadar O2 di otot jantung dan ketersediaan yang diberi oleh pembuluh darah jantung koroner. Akibatnya otot jantung menjadi kekurangan kadar oksigen hingga bisa timbulnya gangguan yang benar-benar serius di jantung.
Gangguan Menderita Jantung Koroner terletak pada pembuluh darah jantung koroner. Kelainannya yakni berupa proses pengapuran dalam berbagai tingkatan mulai dari penyempitan yang masih ringan sampai pada akhirnya terjadilah penyumbatan seluruh dimulai dari dinding pembuluh darah.
Penderita biasanya merasakan nyeri bagian dada bagian kiri seperti rasa tertekan, kadangkala rasa sakitnya menjalar ke lengan kiri ataupun ke dagu.
Risiko terjadinya aterosklerosis dikelompokkan menjadi 2 bagian sebagai berikut: satu Faktor Mampu dikendalikan meliputi : merokok, darah tinggi, hiperkolesterol, kegemukan, kurang olah raga, Stress, steroid. dua Faktor Tidak Dapat dikendalikan seperti : umur, pria, keturunan penyakit jantung.
Cara Pencegahan pada Penyakit Jantung Koroner dengan Obat Alami Jantung Koroner amazon Plus
Pencegahan terhadap Sakit Jantung Koroner dapat dilakukan dengan mengendalikan faktor-faktor risiko di atas. Pencegahan dapat dilakukan dengan cara bertahap, mulai dari tahap ini, sekunder serta tertier.
Pencegahan tahap primer yakni upaya pencegahan dini sebelum terlihat adanya Sakit Jantung Koroner. Upaya yang menuju kepada usaha menjalani hidup sehat dan upaya himbauan seperti kampanye antirokok. Selain itu agar mendidik warga untuk makan makanan kaya akan serat dan rendah kandungan kolesterol. Makan buah serta sayuran-sayuran lebih banyak.
Keunggulan amazon Plus Alami
Di dalam amazon Alami mempunyai kandungan Zat Xanthone yang berfungsi amat baik dalam menangkap senyawa radikal bebas. amazon mampu menormalkan kadar kolesterol total serta kolesterol LDL dan sanggup menaikkan kolesterol HDL.
Obat Herbal Sakit Jantung Koroner amazon Plus Alami secara langsung mempunyai efek anti-aterogenik yang mampu mencegah munculnya Sakit Jantung Koroner. Pencegahan tahap sekunder ditujukan supaya mencegah serangan ulangan pada orang yang sudah pernah terkena Sakit Jantung Koroner & amazon Plus pun berguna untuk pencegahan yang baik. Selain itu, dengan amazon Plus Alami, hipertensi, diabetes serta obesitas bisa terkendali.
Pencegahan tertier adalah program rehabilitasi agar menaikkan mutu hidup para pasien. Pencegahan tersier ini juga dapat kita lakukan dengan konsumsi Obat Herbal Jantung Koroner amazon Plus Alami.
Obat Herbal amazon Penyakit Jantung Koroner merupakan pilihan terbaik guna memulihkan Penyakit Jantung Koroner secara alami, aman dan tanpa efek merugikan. Obat Penyakit Jantung Koroner amazon terbuat dari sari kulit manggis yang memiliki khasiat yang sangat bagus bagi pemulihan segala macam penyakit.
Kulit Manggis memiliki banyak manfaat diantaranya yakni mampu memperkuat serta melebarkan pembuluh darah, menurunkan kadar kolesterol jahat & dapat menurunkan tekanan darah tinggi. Di penjelasan diatas telah disebutkan bahwa Jantung Koroner disebabkan oleh adanya menyempitnya dan penyumbatan pada pembuluh darah jantung, akibat adanya timbunan kolesterol di dinding-dinding pembuluh nadi, sehingga darah tidak mampu lancar mengalir. Disini kegunaan kulit manggis bekerja dengan menghancurkan tumpukan kolesterol yang menyumbat di peredaran darah. Setelah sedikitnya kumpulan lemak tersebut, dengan begitu peredaran darah menuju jantung mampu kembali normal.
Obat Herbal Jantung Koroner Amazon Plus
Obat Jantung Koroner Tradisional
Pengobatan Jantung Koroner Alami
Obat Jantung Koroner Herbal Alami
Obat Herbal Jantung Koroner Alami

Gamer's picture

Wе arе reаlly grateful fоr

Wе arе reаlly grateful fоr уоur blog post. Yоu wіll find а lot оf approaches aftеr visiting yоur post. Your post is just what I had in mind, Thanks for your sharing. That's very kind of you.,and,NA.html

Anonymous's picture

No matter how fickle trends,

No matter how fickle trends, 2014 autum T station always not lack Karen Millen Outlet Plaid figure. The traditional color is still cause for joy, and minimalist black and white, eye-catching Karen Millen dresses orange and navy blue color was quiet even more refreshing. Plaid pattern Karen Millen Sale UK ancient timeless, many designers were given a completely new look.

sxdsw's picture


The research really should include your online business layout market with regard to pupil subscription comments expense per pupil, which include instructors as well as research materials schooling software package as well as secured on the internet on-line procedures house elevators competitors as well as estimated value.
mba admissions consultant

Anonymous's picture

Excellent post. I was

Excellent post. I was checking constantly this blog and I am impressed!Very useful information specially the last part :) I care for such info
much. I was seeking this
free followers on instagram and twitter
free followers on instagram and likes

Anonymous's picture

In today's connected world,

In today's connected world, people interact via a whole range of devices and media. PCs, laptops, tablets, smart phones and mobile phones are the conduits through which messages can be exchanged and apart from these, emerging technologies in gaming consoles, wearable devices.

Anonymous's picture

Trading within the forex

Trading within the forex market is not always going to be difficult. In fact, most traders have found great success and profit through the latest forex market news today. Do not leave any trading stone unturned.

Anonymous's picture

This month, ten peoplewere

This month, ten peoplewere killed by a teenage gunman during a school shooing spree, the deadliest since the one at Columbine High School in l999.

Anonymous's picture

In the world of business,

In the world of business, artists often feel lost. You can turn this around by learning the fundamentals of business. Learn to market yourself and your art. Create a living with your artwork and live the life you are dreaming of!

Anonymous's picture

Starting soon, Facebook's

Starting soon, Facebook's Graph Search will be available to every user based in the United States. Consumers who have been waiting to try out Graph Search will finally be able to get their hands on the new feature from Facebook from this Monday.

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • next ›
  • last »

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

More information about formatting options

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.

Platinum Sponsors Salesforce Foundation Hollyhock

Gold Sponsors

Salsa Labs

Silver Sponsors

Care2 Wire Media Blue State Digital Agentic Firefly Partners Beaconfire

Bronze Sponsors

Advomatic Crowdtangle JacksonRiver Engaging Networks Sea Change Strategies ActionSprout Fission Strategy Organizer

supporting sponsors

Gott Advertising Center for Community Change