Monday, July 03, 2006

Breakthroughs Require (Learning From) Failure

In an upcoming BW article, read about the approaches corporations take towards mistakes.
  • Corning involved prospective users in the design and development process early on to provide needed feedback for the Epic drug testing technology.
  • Gore-Tex rewards outside managers for seeing obstacles and problems that project team members might be biased to overlook, creating a culture of high risk and high accountability.
  • When Virgin Atlantic flubbed an opportunity to increase market share of business class travelers by being the first to introduce sleeper seats in this category, they lost out to British Airways and had to face a $67 million dollar mistake. BA's seats were introduced earlier and provided a better experience for passengers. However, chief of design Joe Ferry showed resilience (and Virgin showed a great deal of faith in him and his team) as he took on an even bigger and costlier challenge with the airlines' upper-class seats and it has paid off.
William Boulding, Duke Univeristy b-school professor, explains in the April Journal of Marketing quoted in the article that personal emotional investment by team members is onse of the hardest factors to cournteract in product development. Wanting to "save face" or show something in return for the sunk costs can steer a company to spending good money after the opportunity potential has evaporated.

Whatever size business you lead, it's important to examine why a particular initiative did not turn out the way you expected.

It could be the product/service lacked critical features that the market demanded. It could be quality issues. It could be the marketing, the timing, inability to deliver, or any of a hundred other reasons.

When your aim is to build a stronger business, you know both the reasons for your success and learn from your failures.

No comments: