I am an advocate of failures, my mantra being: Failure is not a result; it is part of a process. However there are forms of failure that have fatal impact and these can be avoided through leadership, focus, guts and a bit of good luck.
Failure can have many faces
One typical form of failure is that we do not find a working or acceptable solution to a given challenge or need. When a technology proves to be not working or a solution not to be accepted by the market, often enough we see this as failing projects. We can learn and iterate and solve this, or just move on.
If we move on, usually it is for the benefit of another more promising project, which is part of a contracting process forcing us to select were we spend our resources. If we redevelop and try again, we have pushed ourselves to hopefully finding a better solution, i.e. failure was a success.
Killing a project can be hard, but important. Making the right choice for the right reasons early on, tends to touch the efficiency curve of Innovation Portfolio management.
As we are still looking for a cost to market and revenue at market ratio and since this is to be discounted based on a limited time frame, our ability to be efficient affects the overall performance even more.
The lethal failure
Another category of failures, being that we do not have resources, strategy, stamina or guts to Innovate is the dangerous part. This trap has to be avoided at any cost; else it will cost all your revenues, customer relations and talents working for you.
Failing to innovate will over time be lethal to your organization.
When organizations like Kodak, Swedish Postal Services, printed newspapers or any other stale giant lack leaders that interpret mega trends and weak signals and guide their teams to finding solutions and offerings that fill needs and drive change, then we know we are in for a kill. And it is bloody. People lose their jobs, values are destroyed, investors lose capital, and brands are ruined and on and on… however new thinking entrepreneurs gain ground for competition- and I have to admit that I like this.
The cost of closing down, rather than Innovating, collaborating, thinking in new boxes, redesigning, shaping new business models etc., is however incomparable.
There are so many ways of innovating and it is so energizing, as opposed to the contrary. Through corporate venturing methods involving periscope investments and other innovation strategies, I have seen organizations rejuvenate their business and delivering value to all stakeholders.
Leadership for Innovation
There is no alternative in today’s business environment, than to seek and elaborate, discover new ways and continue to disrupt the common grounds.
This is a matter of leadership. Lead for success, embrace failures, and celebrate passion, engagement and efforts. Dare to build your whole organization to lead, don’t focus only on single leaders. Form your culture and operations to actually support innovation and steer its focus towards the exploration and exploitation of new findings.