Reinventing Failure

Reinventing Failure

In 1919, a young twenty-year-old was fired from one of his first animation jobs at the local newspaper. As rumor has it, his employer cited his “uncanny lack of imagination and creativity” as the cause for his termination. This wasn’t the last of his failures – a few years later he started his own animation company that he eventually drove to bankruptcy.

Out of these failed attempts to create something meaningful (and many more that we’re not listing), grew an idea and a dream. This same man later founded one of the greatest innovations in entertainment and hospitality that the world has ever known.

The Walt Disney Company.

Disney has been sharing Walt’s ideas, his creativity, and his passion with the hearts of people all over the world for the last 90 years.

How we fail is important.

What is your philosophy of failure? How do you innovate?

In our experience, most people do one of two things:

  1. The first person runs as fast as they can from every opportunity that could implode to escape from the feared collateral damage of failure. Their self-worth and value as a person and employee is so intricately intertwined in the success of what they do, that they are terrified to fail – so they never innovate. They never challenge.They never grow.
  2. The second type of person charges forward in most every situation. Like an out-of-control train, they never looking back and never realizing the impact of their actions, the people and things they harm, or asking questions about why this or that failed. They skip the step where they ask themselves “how and why did this happen?” or “what can I do differently next time?”

There is, however, a third type of person. A person who innovates – who has a strong philosophy of failure, and who daringly defies the status quo -all the while, learning, asking questions, being sensitive to their failures, but not letting the failures define their success. 

In 2009, Google launched Wave, a technological marvel that seamlessly integrated emails, messaging, social networking, and online collaboration for it’s users.

It was genius.

It was also a complete and total disaster.

By 2010, Google announced that it would be sunsetting the program, and discontinuing all future development.

By 2011, it was, for all intents and purpose, dead. The program never hit the mainstream, it never collected a critical mass of users, and it fizzled out almost as quickly as it was developed. The media lambasted the project, calling Wave an “overhyped bust and a tremendous failure.” And they were right – Wave was a flop.

However, the 60 person team at Google that worked on the project was praised internally. Each of them was highly sought-after for other high-profile, internal projects.

No one lost their jobs.

None of them achieved the creation of something that was successful, but each of them did push the boundaries of innovation. They created something new and different. They dared to think outside of the norm, and made something really special and unique.

Curious about what comes next? Us too!

This week take some time to think about your philosophy of failure and next week we’ll keep talking about how to reinvent your failure.

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