Saturday, February 1, 2014

Failure - on the Path to Success

I like to say I spend most of my days failing, and I like to believe that this does not bother me. But I do, and it does, no matter how much I tell myself that failure is required to succeed in innovation.



Science Friday's 1/24/14 interview with James Dyson is worth a listen. If like me, so much of your work is learning about what could or could not be, you will probably find it helpful to be reminded that failure is important and helpful.

Basically Dyson says, if you can look at your failures and find them interesting, then you can learn from them and ultimately succeed. He toiled away making hundreds of prototypes of his first vacuum before getting it right. But he looked at the failures as opportunities, not ends.

Dyson's interview also reminded me about the importance of defining your work in terms of a clear hypothesis and establishing the desired outcome.

A well understood (and documented) hypothesis, makes it easier to figure out that something did or did not work as expected. And when something does not work, you are able to correct yourself.

It may be annoying, but I do it all the time - keeping it in my head is not good enough. This way, I cannot forget what I wanted as an outcome or pretend that an unsatisfactory result is good enough. It keeps me honest and I am far more efficient in understanding the root cause of the failure

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