How to Accept Innovation FailuresNovember, 21 2012
“Innovation is a key component of any enterprise, but failure is an intrinsic, inevitable part of the process,” says Faisal Hoque, contributor to Fast Company. Failure tends to be a dreaded concept for business leaders.
Some of the best companies in their industry have failed. As an example, take a look at Blockbuster. It became a household name and endured the transition from VHS to DVD. However it failed to adapt fast enough and soon Netflix and other rivals started mailing videos and selling them on-demand. They shuttered hundreds of stores, and began to follow instead of lead an evolving market.
In order for companies to take risks, the culture needs to encourage it. Innovators need to be inspired and encouraged to share their ideas and champion their implementation.
Hoque provides six cultural reasons for innovation failure:
- Not having a formal innovation management framework and systems;
- Not tying initiatives to overall company strategy;
- Not allocating cross-disciplinary resources;
- Not getting buy-in and ownership from cross-functional teams;
- Not creating intelligence driven options and scenarios; and
- Not deploying measurement criteria and metrics.
Hoque says to build an innovative organization you to have the right mindset. This starts at the top and permeates every level. As a business leader, you need to set the example. Business leaders who have a flawed mindset can throw off a company’s perception of reality, which will cause innovation to fail.
According to Hoque, attitude is the first step to become innovative and “accepting the world really has changed and will continue to change, sometimes because of unexpected and unprecedented events. It requires learning to see the world in new ways.”
Innovation is about change, which can be uncomfortable. To discover opportunities others have missed, you need to get out of your comfort zone and look at the world differently. To change the way you do business, you need imagination, creativity, and the ability to accept and respond to every event, experience, or action.
You might not remember the Boeing Sonic Cruiser, but it was a project which the company launched in 2001. It aimed to revolutionize air travel by providing a large jet that could fly 20 percent faster than today’s commercial jets. After a year in development, Boeing found its customers didn’t want more speed. They wanted less expensive planes with high operational capacity which means Boeings Sonic Cruiser was a failure. However Boeing listened to what their customers wanted, took some technologies it had developed, and put them into its new 787 Dreamliner, an innovation some now consider the future of commercial innovation.
We’ve all failed at one point and innovation is all about failure. More ideas will fail than succeed so get used to it and understand failures represent opportunities to learn.
How do you bounce back when an innovation project fails?
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