We live in a society that mostly rewards innovation over everything else. Certainly, the stock market would concur.
So if you’re smart, you’re building a culture of innovation inside your business.
But here’s the thing: Innovation is messy.
For every word that ends up on the printed page, the novelist will have deleted 3 or 4 other words.
A cartoonist will draw for years and years- thousands of cartoons- before she stumbles upon her winning style.
For every TV commercial a big agency sells to the client, the agency will have written a couple of hundred. A mortality rate of 99% is standard.
Apple spent decades in the wilderness before coming back strong and unleashing the iPhone on the world.
It took James Dyson 5,126 vacuum cleaner prototypes to get it right, 5,127 was his lucky number.
A Gapingvoid illustration from a few years back (originally done for an innovation project at Roche Pharmaceuticals) said it well: “Big success is just a lot of little failures scrunched together.”
Conclusion? That to have a culture of innovation, you need a “failure pocket” where smart mistakes are allowed to be made.
Of course, the failure cannot be total. Companies need profits. Eventually, there has to be a win.
But to go into this game expecting only perfection, that is a sure-fire way to lose.