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Failure isn’t the goal for innovation

Cooking

Cooking (Photo credit: omarbercor)

What if you could predict with certainty that people will love your new product or service? What if there was a huge scoreboard that would tell you that a massive amount of people will like what you are cooking up before the expensive launch? Business owners, and managers, tell me that they would love to know that whatever they are cooking up will work with certainty. This is a fallacy.

I’ve also heard managers say, as you have, that they much rather copy competitors than taking the lead themselves to avoid failure. Not surprising in my neck of the woods…

So, what does one tell these people and organizations? The current line of thinking is that one should “fail fast”. But this line of thinking has gone overboard. Some believe that “failure thinking” should be accepted. Let me make it clear: failure isn’t the goal. It is learning.

If you didn’t learn anything from your experiment, then you did indeed fail. So, a better way to frame this strategy is to call it “smart failing”. And yes, any new initiative for which you have no way of determining an outcome, is an experiment.

The faster you understand this, the faster you will say goodbye to the ridiculous expectations set from thinking and doing differently. By adopting this mindset, you have actually made yourself better because you’ve signaled to everyone in your organization that you are open to learning.

The point: The goal of experiments, is to probe for information. An innovation, no matter what others tell you, is not pre-determined. It is a mix of skill and luck. And, to reduce randomness, you have to probe for answers. This is the essence of smart failing. It is closing the gap between a hypotheses, which all strategies and ideas are, and fact.

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