David and Leslie Lawson Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship Tracy Suter has taken an unconventional approach to teaching in his Applied Innovation and Creativity class by awarding his student, not for succeeding, but for failing. The award, called the Fail Harder Award, is meant to highlight the idea that failure is an integral part of success, one of the core values of the class.
“Success and failure are often presented as dichotomous choices,” Suter explains. “However, in the realms of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship, failure is part of the path to success.”
The award comes in response to the class’s Tassel College Tournament, a competition designed to promote creative thinking. Students enter six word descriptions or “nomination speeches” of various items and compete against one other student. The class then votes on the best one and the winners of each round continue on until one is crowned the champion. In each round, students present nomination speeches about different things such as creative logos or products.
Among the losers of the first round was freshman Blake Landon. His entry did not hold out against his two competitors and was promptly eliminated. But, when the class later voted on the overall most creative entry, his came out on top. This lead Suter to put together an award ceremony that included University press and Larry Wofford, chair of the Department of Management and Marketing, to present Landon with the Fail Harder Award.
Suter hoped to convey with this award that the line between failure and success may not be as distinct as traditionally believed. It is better to try and to fail than to not try at all because, more often than not, that failure will help pave the way to future success.