Brilliant Failures

Through the Institute of Brilliant Failures, SPARK recognizes that error is inevitable. SPARK shares its Brilliant Failures, in order to inspire people and organisations to see failure and success as two sides of the same coin.

Submit your Brilliant Failure for 2013 and receive an award for the best learning moment in Development Cooperation.  The Institute of Brilliant Failures is encouraging reflection on your organisational culture for experimentation, innovation and sharing lessons learnt.

This year we are looking for show cases: projects and initiatives which embody the philosophy of the Institute of Brilliant Failures.

Well prepared projects with a different outcome than originally intended and from which a powerful learning is derived.  These cases will be presented and discussed in detail during Partos Plaza on 10 October.

Following the discussions the public will vote for the best ‘show case’.



For a project to be classified as a Brilliant Failure it should meet the following four criteria:

• A goal that you strive to meet with good intention– i.e. not at the expense of others or society at large

• You did all you could to achieve your outcome- a poorly prepared or executed project is not a Brilliant Faillure!

• A different outcome than intended– you did not achieve what you set out to, and perhaps no positive outcome at all – however what did you achieve?

• You learnt something from your failure– something of value to the project team, your organization or the world at large.



Do you have a case that can contribute to the goal of the Brilliant Failure Award? A case that can stimulate transparency, learning capacity, and innovation as core competences in the broad field of International Development Cooperation.

For example, did you:

• After considering the risks, take the space to experiment to achieve your goals, and through experimentation learn something valuable?

• Start with a good data set, an understanding of the ‘known unknowns’, and yet were still thwarted by an ‘unknown unknown’?

• Regularly look for balance between your planned activities and the emerging/changing reality ‘on the ground’ to move forwards?

If so, then we would love to hear from you!  We will support you through an in-depth interview in distilling the core of the case and in preparing the presentation for Partos Plaza.



Further details will be published on the special award website:

For questions please contact us via email: redactie[at] or call Bas Ruyssenaars

(+31 6 14213347) or David Dodd (+31 6 15086358).

Follow us @BrilliantF


*Download the call for participation in the Brillant Failure Award 2013 here

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