Today’s New York Times covered Hillary Clinton’s strategy to recast her ill-conceived 1994 universal health coverage plan within a framework of Lessons Learned. Knowing that a presidential bid may well be in her future, the New York senator wisely put her own personal “spin” [I hate that word but it works here] on Hillary-gate. “A lot of people know that I was involved in health care back in ’93 and ’94, and I still have scars to show for it.” She also added, “We were trying to do something that was very hard to do, and we made a lot of mistakes.” As Times reporters’ Toner and Kornblut noted, Hillary is trying to show that she learned well from past experiences.
The Senator’s recovery strategy is smart. Hillary is couching her acknowledgement of the health care plan disaster within the context of the times. As in business, boards want to hire CEOs and top executives who have failed at some point in their careers. Failure is how executives learn to succeed and lead others. What company wants someone at the helm who has never suffered a setback and been forced to eat humble pie? Who wants another Chainsaw Al Dunlap in the corner office? Companies as well as governments need executives who learn to fail, not those who fail to learn.