Would you attend a talk titled How and Why I Failed?
Many of us are programmed to shirk that one off without a thought.
We want to learn how to succeed.
What about a panel on failure?
A person on a panel I attended at the Global Creative Economy Convergence Summit 2009 suggested the event should sponsor a panel on failure.
He noted there is as much, if not more, to be learned in knowing why a project didn’t work out as there is in hearing why one succeeded.
It’s a great point — especially if your aim is to innovate.
Most attempts at innovation fail. If it were easy everyone could do it.
Experimentation is essential to innovation
Experimentation is fundamental to innovation. Testing to see what does or does not work is an ongoing part of the research and development process. There’s an implicit hope that an experiment may uncover heretofore-unknown knowledge that may lead to a new discovery. If not then testing continues.
We should all thank scientists for having this attitude; otherwise we’d suffer from a multitude of ailments that have been eradicated due to dogged trial and error research.
No one bats 1000
In business the fear of failure leads to paralysis and a play it safe mentality, where no one wants to stick his/her neck out and propose something new. You don’t want to be the one who came up with a faulty idea.
Unless your goal is innovate. Then you’re not afraid of failure because you know that’s part of the deal.
No person, or enterprise, bats 1000.
Failure can lead to smashing success
In the late ‘80s early ’90s Apple introduced its infamous Newton. The device was a PDA (personal digital assistant) before anyone knew what these were or what to do with them. A product ahead of its time, it was also buggy and the Newton failed in the market; big-time.
Two developers of the Newton went on to create the operating system for the first iPods.
The iPhone includes certain elements of the Newton and the rumored Apple tablet, if it is indeed coming to market, will (reputedly) incorporate concepts first introduced via the Newton.
Famous people’s thoughts on failure
Woody Allen, a man whose broken cinematic conventions (and social ones too, but we won’t get into that) said:
“If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative.”
“I have not failed, not once. I’ve discovered 10,000 ways that don’t work.”
And for good measure I’ll include a quote by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. It’s from a commencement address Jobs gave at Stanford University where he spoke about his ability to learn and move on from failure:
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”
The secret to success is to learn from failure
I soaked up a lot of information at the Creative Economy Summit, from people who talked about how to succeed through business strategies, social media and new technologies.
But I think that comment about needing to acknowledge and learn from failure may be the most useful insight of all.
– Deni Kasrel
Do YOU think failure is a critical factor to achieve innovation? Is it a secret to success? Comments welcome.
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