Cabinet Office minister moots ‘Maude Award For Failure’

The Civil Service must embrace failure as part of the innovation process if it is to succeed, minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude has said

By Sarah.Aston

17 Dec 2014

Responding to questions from the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) during a hearing on Monday, Maude admitted civil servants are still too wary of admitting failure and this has impacted the reform process. 

“Far too often we carry on doing things after it's obvious it’s not working,” he said. 

Instead, what the Civil Service should be doing, Maude said, is adopting the Google mantra of “fail small, fail fast”.

“It isn’t a fear of any kind of failure, it is actually: spot that it isn’t working, stop doing it and make sure that the organisation learns from it,” he said.

To encourage this, Maude said he had introduced the “Innovation Award” at this year’s Civil Service Awards – which are run by Civil Service World’s parent company Dods. 

He said he had been tempted to call the prize the “award for the best failure”. 

“The point is, what it was meant to do was reward people who tried something new but didn’t work, they then stopped doing it and ensured the organisation learnt from it. 

“Next year, if I am still around to do it which I hope to be, it will be called the Francis Maude Award for Failure!” he said.

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