Failure opportunity: how to be optimistic about fails (Workshop) 

Nobody enjoys failure. It carries an undeniable stigma and is difficult to confront for individuals and organisations. Failure happens across all sectors and organisations, but can be particularly challenging in conservation. Complexity and uncertainty can make failure more likely, while emotional investment by practitioners and organisations can make confronting failure more difficult. However, if the goal of conservation is to be increasingly effective, and we accept that failure offers valuable lessons, confronting failure is a critical and yet undervalued part of conservation science and practice.

This 90-minute interactive workshop seeks to explore failure in conservation. The participants will discuss different types of failure, the power of learning from failure, and how the conservation sector can better manage and cope with failure in the future. In particular, how we can reconcile failure with optimism, as an important part of making conservation more effective. It will create a light-hearted ‘fail safe’ space for catharsis, with a focus on lessons learned, and approaches for psychologically and culturally dealing with failure. This interdisciplinary session will draw in particular from the work of Allison Catalano, a PhD student researching failure at Imperial College London, in particular, how conservation can take lessons from other disciplines with longer histories of managing failure.