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The Museum of Failure

You know that your business culture has been shaped by start-ups when there’s creation of a Museum of Failure.  The challenge of course is choosing which of the thousands of failed consumer products deserve a showcase in this Swedish repository.

Founded by psychologist Dr. Samuel West, he’s aiming to turn around our views of failure as an essential by-product of the innovation process, produced as a function of several possible activities which any experienced international marketer and business will know well: poor implementation, brand extensions taken too far, corporate cultures that subdue idea generation, poor market research and most obviously a terrible idea in the first place.

Much like the stages of grief, the failure journey shares similar stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.  And the businesses that plan to fail fast and often are those whose rapid prototyping lead to blockbuster commercial successes.  A few examples in the Museum demonstrate the importance of failure as a means to serving innovation’s ends:

  • Apple Newton
  • Bic for Her
  • Google Glass
  • Nokia N-gage
  • Harley-Davidson Perfume
  • Kodak Digital Camera
  • Sony Betamax
  • Lego Fiber Optics

The lesson for business leaders is to harness the lessons from failure quickly by creating a culture that positions it as a necessary event.  Those that are learning organisations are the ones that win.

(Picture Credit: The Museum of Failure, Rejuvenique Electric Shock facial mask)

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