Creative Leaders on Failure: NOBL MD Lauren Currie

We’ve talked to five of CR’s Creative Leaders 50 about how they have handled failure in their own career, and how they advise others to cope when things don’t go according to plan. Here we speak to Managing Director of NOBL, Lauren Currie

Scottish designer and entrepreneur Lauren Currie is Managing Director of NOBL, a company founded in 2014 to help lead organisations and creative leaders through change. She also founded #UPFRONT, which encourages more diverse voices into industry, and co-founded design consultancy Snook, which has offices in London and Glasgow.

Below she talks about how she uses prototyping to avoid failing too big, the importance of listening to your fears but then overcoming them, and why it’s good for the everyone if people are open about their failures.

Creative Review: What are your own experiences of failure in your work?
Lauren Currie: I believe that failure is a skill. We can learn to do it well, or we can fail at failure. As an ambitious person working hard to make positive change in the world, it’s easy to identify with the fear of failure. When I’m stepping outside of my comfort zone — trying a new tool or experimenting with a new idea — it’s difficult not to obsess over the ‘what ifs’.

There are two ways to help manage this: prototyping and reflection. As a designer, prototyping is my secret weapon. It’s the methodology and mindset I use to bring form to new ideas and help people imagine the impossible. At NOBL, failing safely is the very essence of our work; make prototypes, show them to people and make another prototype based on their feedback. This approach may sound new but the notion of doing a lot of things and seeing what sticks is a very old idea. I help clients find the comfortable place to jump in and try prototyping, something small with a low initial cost that can provide some value so they can show their bosses in order to make it a regular part of how they work.