"Don't be afraid of failure," "Fail early and often," and "Don't hire someone who hasn't already failed five times" are phrases you'll hear a lot in innovation circles. Dwelling on failure may seem like time wasted - especially since almost all innovative ideas fail - but in this module we'll take the view that there is more to learning from failure than just the next iteration on a particular project.

One thing we will look at will be modes of innovation failure. Can we identify commonalities that let us characterize failure modes like "too early" or "too late," "wrong place" or "wrong messenger"? What about good ideas with no market? Or good ideas with one critical piece missing in the supply or distribution chain? Or just look at cases where there is a technology lag - this would be a great idea if only someone figured out how to X. And then there's politics and the non-market power of incumbents. And are there steps that incumbents can take to stifle innovation? Networks effects. Installed base problems?

  1. Alexander, Allen et al. 2015. Failure Driven Innovation
  2. Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union
  3. Berkun, Scott. 2006. "New coke: an innovation case study"
  4. Fisher, Anne. 2014. "Why most innovations are great big failures" Forbes Oct 07, 2014
  5. Listverse 2013.10 Innovative Pieces of Technology That Failed Miserably