Fail Forward

Fail Forward

I was reading today about a number of the biggest product failures of all time (kind of a fun read actually). One of the things that jumped out at me was the number of companies that are known for being really innovative that made the list of failures. Normally if you were to put together a list that included Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, and Starbucks you would be reviewing the "most innovative brands" or something similar.What does it tell you if some of the best-known innovators are also on the list of the biggest innovation failures of all time? Everybody fails. It's what you do with those failures thatEverybody fails. It's what you do with those failures that matters.If you look at these failures you can see how these innovative companies used them to "fail forward". They learned from the failure and turned that learning into future success.Just for fun let's highlight a few of the "big failures" to...
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Be Willing to Change – Change is Power

Be Willing to Change – Change is Power

Last week I was in the car driving and listening to the Jeff Blair Show on Sportsnet 590 The Fan. While discussing the pitching situation with the Toronto Blue Jays he said something that really stuck out to me. Jeff had recently changed his position on whether pitcher Aaron Sanchez should move to the bullpen and he was catching a lot of listener ire for that change.The thing that caught my ear was the fact that the listener issues were mostly that he had changed his mind, not with whether they agreed with his position (new or old). People simply didn't like the fact that he had CHANGED his position. Somewhat flippantly Jeff said something that I think is a pretty profound statement on our society and one of the reasons that creativity and innovation are so hard in our organizations: Changing your mind is generally considered a weakness. (more…)...
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fail to Avoid Failure

fail to Avoid Failure

I often get quizzical looks when I suggest that the adoption of a failure acceptance mindset in an organization or team is one of the most critical factors in the success of an organization.  I believe very strongly in the mantra put forward by design firm IDEO: Fail early and often to succeed sooner. - IDEO The key to failure acceptance though is that when I recommend "failing forward" I'm talking about the concept of "little f failure" as opposed to the type of failing that most people think about which I call "big F Failure".  While both constitute a failure in the outcome in relation to the desired outcome, the biggest difference is the scale and timing."Big F Failure" are those notable and legendary failures where an individual, team, or organization have made a plan, stuck to that plan, and then discovered at the end that the outcome was a long way from what was intended.  Consider the launch of the...
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Commit to making Errors of Commission

Commit to making Errors of Commission

According to Rosabeth Moss Kanter, when it comes to innovation the big mistakes are “generally not errors of commission”.  Put another way a former boss used to say “if you’re not failing you’re not trying”.   Ultimately they both mean that it’s actually the lack of innovation that is the most risky approach to doing business.So if the riskier approach is to do nothing and avoid innovation, then why are so many leaders and companies sitting on the side lines waiting for someone to invite them into the game?I believe that the answer lies in two primary factors.  First, many business owners and leaders perceive innovation as the act of taking big chances, risking on big projects with big financial costs that have low odds of success in hopes of eventually hitting one home run that will compensate for the costs of all the losers.  Second, most people are not typically programmed for a high tolerance for differences or change so...
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Design Thinking and The Parable of the Fly Fisherman

Design Thinking and The Parable of the Fly Fisherman

Sunday night I got started reading my first book in a while (it is hard to get as much reading done when you're not riding the train for two hours a day). Luckily it is one that I've been looking forward to - Change by Design by Tim Brown (CEO of IDEO).  I have heard great things about the book before and I  heartily recommend it to anyone struggling with the 'old way' of creating in a corporate environment.  I believe that design thinking is simply a better term for us internal entrepreneurs who need to pitch a new approach in a more traditional company. It also reminds me of a great story that epitomizes the design thinking process - 'The Parable of the Fly Fisherman'. (more…)...
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