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Martin Baker

Clear Lessons & The Charity Learning Consortium


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VIDEO: Changing course in difficult situations

Recognising failure and moving on can be tough, but it’s also a great learning opportunity.

There’s never been anyone I’ve met who’s had a really brilliant failure. It’s been more a really brilliant hard learn, that they’ve taken something from and then done something great with it.

If you can get that mindset, hold onto it. It’s difficult in the moment, but get through it and then when the timing is right, share it. That’s the value.

As an example, we were piloting unconscious bias workshops and one pilot in New York went horribly wrong.

It was at a point in time in our organisation where emotions were running high and the workshop was meant to be emotive and to be a bit exaggerated, but this person stood up and said: “if it’s like this, we should just pack up and go home”. 

The whole room went quiet and even the facilitator looked like he thought, ‘wow, this has gone horribly wrong’. I looked at this individual and I said, “you know, you’re absolutely right. If this was your reaction, then we have completely missed the mark. That’s why we’re doing these pilots because every part of the world is going to be different, every business is going to be different”. 

I said: “what we should have done was in the beginning said the product is going to be delivered in a way that is meant to be exaggerated, to stimulate conversation in the room”. 

At the end of that meeting, he came up to me and he said, “this is very good work and you tell me what you need”. He reset the room because I had met him, and had understood him. I realised this was a great learning moment.

Probably the delivery could have been a little bit different, but that wasn’t the point. His intention was good, emotion was running high, and we renegotiated what needed to be done.

I used that example in some of the learnings because I thought it was an absolute perfect opportunity to show how you can overcome what you think is a deal breaker. It wasn’t, but it looked like it was.

Watch the video for the full story here...

Mark McLane is the Head of Diversity, Inclusion and Wellness for M&G Prudential. Previously the Head of Global Diversity and Inclusion for Barclays PLC, he’s a commissioner for the UK Equalities and Human Rights Commission. He has been recognised on the UK LGBT power list, the Financial Times 100 LGBT business leaders and named in the top 50 global diversity executives by The Economist.

This video is taken from the Clear Lessons video learning library. Clear Lessons is absolutely free for charities and anyone working or volunteering in the third sector. Corporate organisations can purchase a licence, which supports free access for charities. Find out more at

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