Why do we fall Bruce?
13th Nov 2019
Failing sucks. No two ways around it - whether it’s failing to get an idea off the ground, or even worse, failing at the last yard right before you expected to score. I’ve spent a career, and some would say built a career, off failing and the crushing feeling of realizing that something hasn’t worked. So why would I want to celebrate such a horrible thing by having a whole section of my experiments page dedicated to defeats, explosions, implosions, the sudden funding collapses, and the always fun 'Death by a Thousand Cuts'? Because I’m not celebrating the failures, I’m celebrating the learnings that the failure offered.
The lessons learned from failure are, in my experience, the single driving fuel behind innovation. We go out into the unknown, we try something that nobody else has tried, and we shoot for the moon. Spoiler alert here; it doesn’t always work. And, in the words of Mr. Rodgers, “That’s O.K.”
Throughout my career I’ve been lucky enough to be mentored by, and work for, individuals who have helped foster a high acceptance for failure and allowed me to design platforms and products that otherwise would have been impossible. I’ve done my best to pay this forward today by now building groups of talented individuals in the form of innovation labs, departments, and offices, and remind them daily that there is no fear of failure in my teams. If staff feel they can’t take risks, they don’t do exceptional work. For them to go on, embrace the suck of taking a risk and going into the unknown. And if the risk leads to failure, the worst that would happen to them is a celebration of the lessons learned.
So with this in mind, going forward I’ll be documenting and writing about not just my successes, but my failures too. Not only are they far more numerous, and likely more entertaining, its an opportunity for us all to celebrate what it takes to practice innovation.
If there aren’t many failures, we haven’t been trying hard enough to do innovative things.