Better Innovation means failing more often

It’s an odd thought that failing more often is better for you. After all failure is, well failure, and not something that is typically celebrated. However one place where failure is absolutely necessary is in a highly innovative corporation.

Innovation Choices and Opportunities

Lots of failure highlights a tremendous corporate asset – the presence of choice. Remember the Edison quote on failure:

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.

If your company runs dry of choices, design options, Plan B’s, or plain old business opportunities, you are in serious trouble.  Simply put, the well has run dry and you might as well start looking for a buyer, get as much as you can, and let someone else harvest the existing market share.

Innovation Effects

Failing often also weakens the demoralizing effects of failure. Here’s a Wikipedia quote on innovation failures:

The impact of failure goes beyond the simple loss of investment. Failure can also lead to loss of morale among employees, an increase in cynicism and even higher resistance to change in the future.

And it’s true, failure can be morally devastating, hard to recover from, and potentially cancerous to the corporate spirit. However, think about that Edison quote, not only does it speak to choices, but it echoes a spirit of resolve. Edison didn’t see failure as traumatic; it was simply something which accompanied innovation. Today Google has a similar mentality. Here is how Google presented the death of Google Wave

Wave has taught us a lot, and we are proud of the team for the ways in which they have pushed the boundaries of computer science. We are excited about what they will develop next as we continue to create innovations with the potential to advance technology and the wider web.

There is nothing in the tone to indicate disappointment or loss of morale.

So failing often is actually a good thing, it teaches you how to keep moving forward.

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