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Four Reasons Why Failure Is Essential to Success

We all fail; it’s an inevitable part of life. Of course, no one enjoys failing, and we certainly don’t go into new endeavors hoping to fail. Look at the potential costs: time, money, and (perhaps worst of all) dignity. But, while failure doesn’t feel good, it is actually good for us.

Here at Knowledge SUCCESS, we’re always thinking of new ways to deliver family planning and reproductive health (FP/RH) information…and looking for ways to do this better. A few months back, we decided to try out a new way to share the latest FP/RH news and resources. We called it And Another Thing. We couldn’t always share the relevant and timely resource submissions we got each week in our newsletter That One Thing, so we envisioned And Another Thing as our way to help those looking for more find it easily.

Despite a promising start, we analyzed various metrics—like page views of And Another Thing and clicks from our weekly Trending News newsletter where we promoted it—and made the decision to discontinue the series. It didn’t seem to land as the resource our audience wanted to see. Why invest our resources into it when we could be focusing on the type of content our readers could benefit from and use in their FP/RH work?

This was our reasoning for discontinuing the series. But instead of mourning this “failure,” we’re viewing it as an opportunity. To what? Read on.

Reflect

We stopped and looked back at why we started And Another Thing and how we did it. Even though the best decision was to discontinue the series, we still learned from the whole process. We learned about the type of content our audience wants to see and were reminded That One Thing is still a valuable resource; it picks out the one resource the FP/RH workforce should focus on that week.

“We are human beings at the end of the day. Success and failure are a part and parcel of our life.”

Hima Das

Celebrate

Two hands hold sparklersWe were brave enough to try something new, and we encourage others working in content creation and knowledge management for the FP/RH workforce to do the same. What’s a story without ups and downs? Failure makes us interesting, more relatable.

“I really don’t think life is about the I-could-have-beens. Life is only about the I-tried-to-do. I don’t mind the failure, but I can’t imagine that I’d forgive myself if I didn’t try.”

Nikki Giovanni

Learn

Overcoming failures teaches resilience, and resilience is a valuable skill. Even though this product didn’t land with all of our audiences, analytics showed us that it was useful to some of them. The low engagement as time went on doesn’t mean the next one won’t be a bigger hit. We’re determined to keep bringing you the types of resources you need as a member of the FP/RH workforce—the ones that our analytics have shown you love and use.

“I thank God for my failures. Maybe not at the time, but after some reflection. I never feel like a failure just because something I tried has failed.”

Dolly Parton

Innovate

Analytics showed us that the Knowledge SUCCESS audience was not using And Another Thing, therefore we acted. That One Thing’s engagement compared to And Another Thing’s showed us that our readers preferred That One Thing’s format and style. The curated resource brought to their inbox was favored over a long list of resources. Being able to draw these conclusions is an example of how failure breeds innovation. A better understanding of our readers’ preferences will spark ideas for our next products, ones our readers want to see and will find useful.

It’s so hard to say goodbye, and we’re grateful for your interest in And Another Thing. This beta test has taught us a lot. We can now focus on other ways to curate and deliver relevant and timely content to you. Stay tuned!

Plant sprouts through wooden planks
Natalie Apcar

Program Officer, KM & Communications, Knowledge SUCCESS

Natalie Apcar is a Program Officer at the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs, supporting knowledge management partnership activities, content creation, and communications for Knowledge SUCCESS. Natalie has worked for a variety of nonprofits and built a background in planning, implementation, and monitoring of public health programming, including gender integration. Other interests include youth and community-led development, which she got the chance to engage in as US Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco. Natalie earned a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies from American University and a Master of Science in Gender, Development, and Globalization from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Tykia Murray

Managing Editor of Digital Content, Knowledge SUCCESS

Tykia Murray is the Managing Editor of Digital Content for Knowledge SUCCESS, a five-year global project led by a consortium of partners and funded by USAID’s Office of Population and Reproductive Health to support learning and create opportunities for collaboration and knowledge exchange within the family planning and reproductive health community. Tykia holds a BA in Writing from Loyola University Maryland and an MFA from the University of Baltimore's Creative Writing & Publishing Arts program.

Sonia Abraham

Scientific Editor, Global Health: Science and Practice Journal

Sonia Abraham is the scientific editor for the Global Health: Science and Practice Journal and has been writing and editing for over 25 years. She holds a Bachelor’s in Biological Sciences from the University of Maryland and a Master’s in Writing from Johns Hopkins.

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