FEATURE29 February 2024

Bump in the road: How insights professionals can learn from setbacks

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‘Failing fast’ may be the culture of Silicon Valley, but most of us are uncomfortable with failure. Yet setbacks are a part of life, and how we respond can determine how we learn. By Liam Kay-McClean.

photograph of multiple laned road with light trials from passing cars headlights

“I lost two jobs over the course of about two-and-a-half years and, to be honest, both times I eventually saw it as a great life opportunity, though how soon after varied between the jobs.”

Peter Lane, who now works in user research at YuLife, tells us that the first job was lost because of the financial fallout from the Covid-19 lockdown, which resulted in him being made redundant, followed by a period of freelance work. The second was a dream role that turned sour.

“The dream quickly faded; there was mounting pressure on me and I was out of my depth, writing and editing at pace, and in bulk, ” says Lane. “Stress mounted and I became increasingly anxious. After a few months, they pulled the plug. This was both a knock to my confidence and a kind of relief – at first from the stress and then, more slowly, a relief that I had given it, my ‘dream’, a go, ticked the box, ...