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    “Don't be afraid to fail. Be afraid not to try.”

    - Michael Jordan

  • SoLI2019: #failurecamp


    Many thanks to all of the people who made the second annual Summit on Law and Innovation such a success! We absolutely did not fail to co-create an amazing experience at #failurecamp.

    On July 20, 2019, 50 courageous people gathered at Vanderbilt Law School for a day-long interactive unconference designed to explore our human relationship with the fear of failure, the power of intelligent failure, its (necessary?) role in driving innovation across the legal industry, and more.


    With curiosity and open minds, we shared stories, asked questions, hatched plans—all with a transparency and vulnerability that comes from true collaboration in a safe space.


    This may have been the first #failurecamp. It will not be the last.

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    Why #failurecamp?


    The annual Summit on Law and Innovation (SoLI) exists to bring together people who are passionate about innovating across the legal spectrum to #makelawbetter.


    Sponsored by Vanderbilt Law's Program on Law and Innovation, SoLI is about creating a moment that will lead to movement that (we hope) will ripple across legal practice, legal education, and legal technology.


    The 2019 theme is at the heart of innovation and entrepreneurship: FAILURE. How do we define it? Why do we fear it? Why is it inherent in the innovation process? How do we reframe it to harness its power to #makelawbetter?

    Through story-telling and loosely structured, interactive workshops co-designed with fellow campers, together we will explored failure with the intent to create connections and movement to #makelawbetter beyond the moment.


    P.S. We will also had FUN! This is camp, after all.

  • What is #failurecamp?

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    stories around the campfire

    We kick off #failurecamp with stories around the campfire: Stories that reveal our complicated relationship with failure. Stories that illuminate the connection between learning and failure. Stories that expose failure for what it is—human and normal and necessary for growth. Stories that reflect a genuine experience with trying and not getting it right and what comes of this.

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    exploring the power of failure

    At the heart of innovation—of making law better—is experimentation. We live in a world of unprecedented change, happening at an unprecedented pace. In the face of constant ambiguity, we must experiment to figure out what change will create value.


    Inherent in experimentation is failure. We call it intelligent failure, the kind of failure that we learn from in order to iterate and excel. What does intelligent failure look like? How do we build a culture that embraces intelligent failure? We'll delve into these and other big questions throughout the day at #failurecamp through unconference sessions led by participants.

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    embracing the healing power of reframing failure

    As a tribe, lawyers are brittle—the opposite of resilient. We are skeptical—which means we're less likely to take risks and try new things. We are perfectionists—which means we don't try new things unless we know they will work.


    All of these traits? Highly correlated to the mental (un)wellness crisis our profession faces.


    At #failurecamp, we will explore how our tribe's fear of failure may be contributing to our lack of thriving, and most importantly we will seek to understand how we as individuals can reframe our relationship with failure to improve our own lives and ultimately, our profession as a whole.

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    how to fish: running an experiment

    When it comes to fishing, there are things you can control for. And things you cannot control for. You run the risk that the fish will steal the worm, in your effort to catch the fish.


    If your life depends on fishing, do you not even try because the fish may steal the worm? No. You experiment with how best to catch the fish, and learn from what does (and doesn't) work.

    At #failurecamp, we will explore how experimentation in legal innovation is much like fishing.


    Intrigued? You should be. Join us!

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    fill your innovation backpack

    At #failurecamp, campers will explore various tools, processes, and methods to support innovation across the legal spectrum to #makelawbetter.


    Reframing our relationship with failure is but one of many ways to facilitate innovation!


    The day is designed to provide an ideal combination of loose structure and unstructured time, with the opportunity for campers to design activities most relevant to their particular interests. You will fill your innovation backpack!

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    from a moment to movement

    Ultimately, the goal of #failurecamp is to empower and embolden individuals to go forward, embrace the power of experimentation (including learning from what doesn't work), and create ways to #makelawbetter in their corner of the universe.


    As a tribe committed to this common cause, we can amplify and support each other beyond the day! How might we create movement beyond the moment?

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    songs, crafts. and s'mores!

    Lest you think #failurecamp is all about failure, know this: we will have FUN!


    There will be songs around the campfire. There will be arts and crafts to bring out your inner creative force.


    And, there will be s'mores. LOTS of s'mores.

  • #failurecamp Logistics & Registration

    The SoLI2019 team designed #failurecamp to be a combination of storytelling, loosely structured workshops, and unconference sessions co-created and co-facilitated by campers—with some songs around the campfire and crafts mixed in! Campers included a multi-disciplinary group spanning the legal spectrum along with folks from technology, education, healthcare, business, and more who joined us in our exploration of the power and value of failure in the innovation process.


    Many thanks to the generous supporters of SoLI2019 and the mission of #failurecamp:

    Vanderbilt Law School's Program on Law + Innovation, dealWIP and Rayna Corp!


    when: Saturday, July 20, 2019

    where: Vanderbilt Law School, Nashville, TN (map)

    cost: $50/camper

    (registration includes light breakfast, lunch, snacks, libations, and craft supplies)


    . . . . . . . . .



    The day went something like this:


    8:00 - 8:45 am: Campers meet over a light breakfast

    unstructured time for connection and conversation


    8:45ish am: Welcome to #failurecamp!


    9:00 am: Storytelling around the campfire: Round 1

    a fresh and inspirational take on the typical conference "sage on a stage" format


    10:30: Exploring in unconference sessions

    agenda creation by campers

    (see unconference info below for resources)


    (break around 11:00 am)


    11:15: First unconference session

    campers lead/attend session(s) based on interests


    12:30: Lunch

    campers mingle while enjoying a delicious and healthy meal


    1:15 Storytelling around the campfire: Round 2

    more of our fresh and inspirational take on the typical conference "sage on a stage" format


    (break around 2:15)


    2:30: Second unconference session

    campers lead/attend session(s) based on interests


    (popsicle break around 3:45)


    4:00: Sharing out from unconference sessions

    campers share outcomes from sessions


    5:00: Camp celebration

    Songs, crafts, and mixing and mingling over libations & snacks!


    . . . . . . . . .

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    9:00 am | 1:00 pm

    Stories around the Campfire

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    10:30 am | 2:30 pm

    Exploring in Unconference Sessions

    Led by Participants

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    5:00 pm

    Songs from Music City

    #failurecamp Information

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    Curious about #failurecamp? Contact Cat Moon, Director of Innovation Design for PoLI

    c.moon@vanderbilt.edu / 615-322-6591


    Use the contact form below to join the SoLI mailing list and receive information and updates about #failurecamp and future events. Your information will not be shared or used for any other purpose.

  • how we #unconference at #failurecamp

    We've compiled resources to help you prepare and make the most of your time with fellow campers during the unconference sessions at #failurecamp. Click the button below to access a google doc with these resources.


    We can't wait to learn about your session ideas and learn from you!

  • supporters of #failurecamp

    Making #SoLI2019 possible through their generous financial support!

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    Program on Law + Innovation (PoLI) at Vanderbilt Law

    A compass for navigating innovation in the modern legal profession.

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    Helping lawyers and firms work smarter.

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    Better diligence. Better deals.

  • Resources

    what to read, listen to, and watch before coming to #failurecamp

    + some tools

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    Articles + Books

    what to read about failure, experimentation, innovation

    What Happened, Part I: Strategy Fails / Laura Walker McDonald: In this article, McDonald shares the failure story of her start-up SIMlab (mission: to help others use inclusive technology for social change work — an example of honest conversation about failure, shared to help others learn and grow. (h/t to Andrea Perry-Petersen for this story)


    10 Levels of Failure /via Fail Festival


    Creating an Innovation Culture: Accepting Failure is Necessary / Edward D. Hess via Forbes


    Everyone Fails. Here's How to Pick Yourself Back Up / Rachel Simmons via NYT


    It Is Failure, Not the Recovery From Failure, That Changes Who We Are / Greg Lambert via 3 Geeks and a Law Blog


    The Only Way to Understand (Innovation) Success is by Measuring Failure / Laurence Van Elegem


    Courage Over Comfort: Rumbling With Shame, Accountability, and Failure at Work / Brené Brown How to Overcome Your Fear of Failure / Harvard Business Review


    How Coca Cola, Netflix, and Amazon Learn from Failure / Harvard Business Review


    HBR Failure Issue / Harvard Business Review (April 2011)


    Why Hypotheses Beat Goals / MIT Sloan Management Review


    8 Ways to Failure Your Way to Success / IDEO


    Can Failure Lead Us to Impact? / Liz Weaver, Tamarack Institute


    How to fail / Seth Godin


    The difference between a failure and a mistake / Seth Godin


    Performing a Project Premortem / Harvard Business Review


    Dare to Lead Hub / resources from the book by Brené Brown


    Creative Confidence / David Kelley and Tom Kelley


    The Myths of Innovation (synopsis) / Scott Berkun

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    what to listen to about failure, experimentation, innovation

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    what to watch about failure, experimentation, innovation

    TED Talks: Failure (playlist)


    The fringe benefits of failure / Harvard graduation talk by JK Rowling via TED


    The Puzzle of Motivation / TED Talk by Dan Pink


    How to find a wonderful idea / TED talk by OK Go

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    what to do about failure, experimentation, innovation

    failforward.org resources page: assessments and tools for leveraging intelligent failure + experimentation


    How to run a project premortem / Atlassian