José Vieira - "it does not bother me at all that I have failed"

Photo by "Dinehiro Vivo"

Companies have always invested in trying to avoid failure by minimizing the chances of error; this is normal and natural, as errors invariably lead to losses.

In a culture like ours, failure always looks bad, and we are often guided to follow the sure footsteps of the majority, to not step out of line, to avoid the confrontation of ideas, and to minimize the risk of being alone, exposed to the ridicule of failure.

In the first person, I know that I fail. I fail every day. I fail as a person, as a husband, as a father, as a son, as a friend, as a manager, and in all the facets and roles that define me as a human being. It is from this awareness that eventually the will to want to be/to do better arises.

In turn, I cannot define failure, because often only time can verify it; as management time is so short, narrow, and rotating, it is practically impossible to assess the impact of our decisions on a future in which practically nothing depends on us.

The fear of failure and of being criticized prevents us from being free to experiment, to test, to play, and to commit ourselves to an idea or goal.

However, facing the risk of failure is the only way to validate whether we are correct, and taking the risk of exposing ourselves to ridicule is the best way I know to find great ideas and people.

In the case of Viarco, each new project must be able to fulfill several functions and objectives simultaneously: it must be simple; if possible, it must executed locally, and external collaborations are welcomed and appreciated; it has to meet the organization's values, adding value for stakeholders or their communities, and not jeopardizing the viability of the company.

In January 2011, as we moved to purchase Viarco to prevent its closure (the company had lost over 50% of its turnover in the previous five years), no one believed that, in the midst of a global financial crisis, it would be possible to convert a small, old pencil factory in Portugal into one of the most innovative companies in its sector worldwide, without buying a single new piece of equipment.

Failure is part of the human evolutionary process; often, it is from failure that arises knowledge that we would not otherwise have access to. Therefore, it does not bother me at all that I have failed; what would bother me is having to resign myself to accept that we cannot change anything.

José Vieira, Administrator Viarco