Freedom to Fail

freedom to fail“I love it when I fail!” Have you ever heard anyone say those words? Not likely. However, recent studies and statistics have revealed that, rather than view our failures as shameful and worthless endeavors, we should work more on embracing failure as inherent and necessary on the road to innovation. That even when ideas do fail, this is an essential part of innovation. Thomas Edison, after hearing a colleague grumble about a failed experiment, remarked, “I cheerily assured him that we had learned something. For we had learned for a certainty that the thing couldn’t be done that way, and that we would have to try some other way.” While sometimes difficult to remember, our failures get us one step closer to having the right answer.

Further, working with a crowd softens the blow of this reality. The pure volume of ideas that are generated through crowdsourced innovation campaigns allow for the greater opportunity for success. When you get right down to it, it’s a matter of numbers and percentages—if you have more ideas to begin with, even with a high rate of failure, you will still have more successful ideas than otherwise.

For example, if you look at an organization that does not use the crowd to garner ideas, perhaps they come up with five ideas that they try to implement. Of those five ideas, only one of them is successful. Then look at an organization that decides to crowdsource ideas. As a result, they start out with 15 big ideas, of which eight are successful. There were still seven failed ideas there, but there were also some winners.

Crowdsourcing of ideas not only ensures a greater number of ideas to try out, but it also allows for a greater pool of resources in order to make ideas work, and more minds with different areas of knowledge. Additionally, more minds means that multiple directions can be explored at once.

What can you do to better celebrate and embrace failure on the path to innovation?

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