Fedblog FedblogFedblog
Government Executive Editor in Chief Tom Shoop, along with other editors and staff correspondents, look at the federal bureaucracy from the outside in.

Help Us Celebrate Your Failures. Really.

Paul Maguire/Shutterstock.com

You’ve heard the expression “success has many fathers; failure is an orphan.” Help us turn that around at our May 7 Excellence in Government conference here in Washington. We’re looking for a few brave souls willing to own their failures in the interest of helping their peers learn from their mistakes.

Government employees sometimes feel as if they’re under a microscope. The media often trumpet your failures with a little help from third parties with an ax to grind. But by leaving the discussion of what doesn’t work to outsiders, federal employees cede the possibility for honest learning that comes from truthful introspection. If you’ve ever reached for programmatic glory only to fall short, please consider sharing your story with the State Department’s Richard Boly and myself at a session aimed at teasing out the lessons to be learned from this sort of failure.

Here are the particulars:

There’s actually a name for this event: A failfaire.

Your job: Using a modified version of the presentation methodology Pecha Kucha -- 20 slides, autoadvancing every 30 seconds – tell a first-person account about learning from failure. Richard and I will work with you to help you make this compelling.

After three presenters tell their stories, our audience will vote for their favorite presentation, after which we’ll have a discussion about what was learned from the experiences.

Lastly, we’ll announce the winner of the first federal Failfaire. If you think this could be you, please send me an email at kpeters@govexec.com and put “failfaire” in the subject line.

A few more particulars about the presentations: They should tell a personal story (no blaming others) that describes the project, the goal, where it went wrong, what you would do differently (or never again), and what lessons others might take from your experience.

(Image via Paul Maguire/Shutterstock.com)


Katherine is deputy editor of Government Executive Media Group, a division of Atlantic Media, where she oversees editorial coverage for GovExec.com and Government Executive magazine. She previously was executive editor of Nextgov.

Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.