“The faster you fail, the faster you learn and the faster you will succeed.” This is the prevailing wisdom from a couple of experts speaking at this year’s Trendforum innovation conference. And of course, it’s been said here that we don’t learn from our mistakes, but rather that nothing succeeds like success. Well, no one’s ready to eat those words but they can be modified to include the possibility that failure in the innovation process can help carve a path to success. The reasoning behind the idea of failing in order to succeed, is that thinking outside that now famous box and pushing beyond the limits aren’t as heartily embraced in practice. Those who don’t conform are often penalized. Consequently, instead of being innovative, staff members try to keep their jobs by staying on the same old, tired track.
At Trendforum, innovators from such well-respected companies as IBM spoke at a “Fail Camp,” urging business leaders to accept that in order to innovate there will be bumps in the road. While some may call these bumps failures, others may see them as necessary junctions on the way to success. One cited example is Google’s Wave which was thought to be a brilliant product but it simply did not take off. Instead of firing the team, CEO Eric Schmidt assigned to them “other Wave-like projects.” He famously said, “Remember, we celebrate our failures. This is a company where it’s absolutely okay to try something that’s very hard, have it not be successful…” It isn’t known if the Google people celebrate with Failure Cards and Failure Cakes. “Congratulations – uh, sorry but keep on, keeping on Old Chums and better luck next time.”
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