Fail Forward – Overcoming the Fear of Messing Up

1-Hour Breakout Session
Wednesday, Sept. 21 from 1:45 p.m. – 2:45 p.m. ET
ECQ 5: Building Coalitions
Attendees Can Earn 1 CPE

The fear of failure is real. Add the notion that failure could cost taxpayer dollars and that fear increases. However, without trial and error, innovation rarely occurs. In order to make innovation happen, leaders need to overcome the anxiety of messing up – which, of course, is easier said than done. 

In this session, you will hear from a leader about how failing forward can transform an organization for the better. You will learn strategies and best practices for encouraging your team to take risks, in hopes of creating a more valuable future. 

Relevant Competencies: Leveraging Diversity, Developing Others, Team Building, Continual Learning


Michael Lawyer, Director of Human Resource Management, Office of Field Policy and Management, U.S. Dept of Housing and Urban Development

Michael has spent his career helping people uncover a passion for their work and unlocking their potential. He currently serves as Director of Performance and Resource Optimization for the Office of Field Policy and Management in the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Prior to this role, he coordinated and supported Employee Engagement initiatives across the Department. In 2015 these initiatives helped HUD become the most improved mid-sized agency in the Partnership for Public Service’s Best Places to Work Index.

In addition to his formal work on Employee Engagement, Michael is a founding board member of the Presidential Management Alumni Association, a new organization bringing together PMFs from the last 40 years of the government’s premier leadership recruiting program. He also co-founded and led Under 5, HUD’s new employee affinity group. With more than 300 active members, Under 5 developed new policies and programs, transformed the new employee experience, and increased the new employee retention rate at HUD.

Michael regularly speaks and trains on employee engagement, government communications, and the future of the federal workplace. He has presented at The Next Generation of Government Training Summit, OPM’s Pathway’s Day, The Training Officer’s Consortium Annual Institute, and many federal agencies and employee groups.

Before joining federal service as a Presidential Management Fellow, Michael worked in the nonprofit sector as a community organizer and fundraiser. He holds a J.D. from the University of St. Thomas School of Law, and a B.A. in Creativity from Bethel University. He lives in Washington DC with his wife and two sons.

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