July 10, 2011

Failure is an option!

Google is releasing Google+, a new social media tool. As many like to point out, this is on the heals of several recent failures with Wave and Buzz and (if they are aware) a slew of other efforts attempted and failed over the year. We are inclined to think that failure is indicative of future failure, so the implication is that this too is likely to fail.

Seeing this attitude by the press and public saddens me. It says that we do not appreciate the value of failure. It reiterates an expectation for companies and individuals to always succeed or be assumed failures.

Innovations, which come at the cost of many failures, are stifled by this attitude. This attitude reinforces people's fear of failing, so they do not try. This attitude makes large companies afraid to experiment when experimentation is necessary for true innovation. This is why large companies buy innovative small companies rather than innovate in-house and risk failing.

Inside every success are many failures. Benjamin Franklin, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Edison all knew this. Any great scientist knows this. WD40 would have been WD1 in a world without failure.

Failures are what we should embrace. We should be applauding Google for taking such big risks and failing. This is commendable for a company their size. Google should be a model for other companies and individuals to take a chance to fail. By applauding and commending them, we encourage more failures, and ultimately, more future success.

July 6, 2011

Risk setting the proper expectations

We have gotten away from setting the proper expectations of risk. I have discussed how we live with a feeling that things should be "risk-free." Constant reminders of this foolishness notion are warnings not to use my hairdryer in the shower or not to use a razor in a brisk earthquake or not to eat a plastic bag. Instead of accepting that risks exist, we expect manufacturers to take extra precautions on our behalf. These extra precautions: extra testing, asterisks on everything, special labels, modifications to the product, etc. increase the cost of goods (usually more than that additional value is worth to the average consumer). Rather than raising the cost of goods, why not raise (in some kind of way) our level of common sense? Why not raise our acceptance that risk is part of life?