Project WolverineBroadcasting LIVE from the orbiting command centre

There’s an article at Innovation Excellence, about Innovation and the Law of Averages.

In a nutshell, the author claims that you can’t have success without failures, so to increase your number of successes, you need to increase your number of failures – ie, the law of averages.  He calls this ‘failing your way to success’.

Apart from how stupid this sounds, he’s ignoring one really big consideration.  By not putting some thought into his approach, and planning it better from the start, his acquisition costs will be huge.  The cost of trying to succeed with each failed project will ultimately be borne by those that do succeed.  If you’re really unlucky, your costs will be so high, your eventually successful project will be unaffordable, due to the money you’ve sunk into the R&D stages.

Of course, you could ignore those costs – they’re sunk costs, but your company has still spent that money, and you’ll be unprofitable.

In actual fact, you want to minimise the number of failed projects.  Some things won’t work out the way you planned, but if you learn from those mistakes, and incorporate them into your planning for the next attempt, you won’t need to ‘fail fast’.

There are other things you can do to minimise the chances of failure, but the concept of ‘failing  your way to success’ is ludicrous.

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