Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Innovation is the punctuation at the end of a string of failures

Read this in Forbes: "Innovation's Return on Failure: ROF".

Also, this: "The Necessity of Failure in Innovation (+ more on CDOs)".

This, too: "Why innovation efforts fail".

While we're at it: "Accepting Failure is Key to Good Overall Returns on High-Risk Development Programs".

I can't say enough about the value of "failure".  The big issue here is the label.

A project with a grand scope and strategic vision gets changed to make it smaller and more focused.  Did it "fail" to deliver on the original requirements?  Or did someone learn that the original grand scope was wrong?

A project that changes isn't failure.  It's just lessons learned.  Canceling, re-scoping, de-scoping, and otherwise modifying a project is what innovation looks like.  It should not be counted as a "failure".

A project "Death March" occurs because failure is not an option, and change will be labeled as failure.


  1. "Did it "fail" ... Or did someone learn ... "

    Very few tribes (ooops, I think their called organizations these days) would tolerate words like we are going to try ... and spend ... dollars to figure out what to do. The response would be something like, what do you mean that you don't know EXACTLY what to do?

  2. Use the startup term "pivot". Startups don't fail. They try x, learn y and then try z.