Earlier this year I opened an article with an interpretation of a line from Arthur Ransome’s book Swallows and Amazons: “Better dead than duffers.” I have studied the cult of failure as part of my consulting practice and to help my clients understand how and if “fail fast, fail often” makes for a higher overall result.
I have spent the last week on vacation and continue to see this topic pop up in business articles, TED talks, presentation and discussions within my social networks. If you have the opportunity, pick up the December issue of Harvard Business Review where research around the “80% of companies that existed before 1980 are no longer around” idea is well diagnosed and ties into the discussion of creative destruction and “fail fast fail often”.
The purpose of this post today is a short reminder that mistakes are the “necessary evil” (as PIXAR’s Ed Catmull says) of companies who innovate, transform and disrupt. The evil or pain from the failure becomes less when value is extracted from the experience. Think about it.
Do you remember having skinned knees as a child while trying to ride your bike or learn to rollerskate? Did the pain lessen when you first took the freeing ride on your own?
Failure in business is exactly like that. If you extract maximum value from failure than although you might not have “failed fast” or don’t want to “fail often” you will have maximized the overall result of the project or the innovation bringing benefits to your organization.
All the best in 2017! May this coming year be filled with health, wealth and happiness.
Disruption – “disturbance or problems that interrupt an event, activity, or process” – is not new but usage of the word disruption has increased in the late 1990s. It would be interesting to explore the correlation between “disruption” (word usage) and internet usage.
But today, I would like to explore something non-analytical. Something that sometimes we fail to acknowledge as a factor for why we do things, why we appreciate things, why we live. Beauty.
Is disruption beautiful? I think so:
1) it reveals novelty, new ways of doing things, new connections, innovation
2) it proves we live in a dynamic world – not static, but constantly changing, reimagining our lives and our role in the world
3) it means that we are not alone – disruption implies clashes (of ideas, of cultures, of beliefs) and is the mark of a society – two or more people interacting with each other.
I was at the Portada Latin America Marketing and Advertising conference last week where I witnessed some amazing campaigns that reach audience/community/clients in Latin America in new and exciting ways. I also heard about some disruptive technologies from keynote speaker Scott Dadich of WIRED magazine. The world is complex, dynamic and ripe for disruption. Traditional industries and sectors are being challenged by interruptions from outside (and inside) their organizations. “We are a monopoly” or “we have always done it this way” are not responses that are in line with our complex society anymore.
Disruption is beautiful. It reveals that we are not robots living in a matrix but rather human beings looking to create something that, sooner or later, may challenge the status quo.
Like “innovation”, “disruption” is becoming a buzzword – losing the real meaning behind the original theory made famous by Clayton Christensen.
I came across an incredibly clear explanation of disruption provided by the New York Times (it’s actually from an innovation report that was leaked last week). You can read it here (Page 16). I was drawn to this description through Ezra Klein’s piece entitled “Read the New York Times’ insanely clear explanation of disruption”
The key points:
1) The original disruption theory comes from Clayton Christensen’s study of things like the hard drive and steel industries where he realized that disruptive products tend to combine new technologies, cheaper production, and — crucially — worse products.
2) Poor quality and low profit margins of the new product prevent the incumbent business from recognizing the threat. (Also relates to Chris Dixon’s Good Ideas look like Bad Ideas see it here).
3) As the competitors experiment with the new production technologies they become better able to produce high-quality, high-profit products than the incumbents, and they eventually move up the value chain and disrupt the incumbent’s core business.