More podcast goodness. This time Tina Seelig of the┬áStanford Innovation Lab interviews┬áAlberto Savoia about ΓÇ£How to Succeed by Failing ΓÇÿFerrari FastΓÇÖΓÇ¥. The discussion takes place within the context of entrepreneurship and start-ups but the┬áinsights and lessons on failure can be applied anywhere in life. ItΓÇÖs a 30-minute podcast and very easy to listen to. ThereΓÇÖs little to no jargon here.
Here are my take-aways:
Build the right It before you build it right
This echoes something┬áa business lecturer said when I was in┬áuniversity: Be Effective first, then be Efficient. Said another way, make sure you do the right thing before you do the thing right.
Albert talks about Pretotyping┬áas a way to help discover if you are building the right it.┬áIn direct contrast to Prototyping which seeks to make sure the product functions properly (i.e. ΓÇ£building it rightΓÇ¥), Pretotyping seeks to gather (as quickly as possible) enough data about market demand for you to make a decision: should you go ahead with the idea (i.e. are we┬áΓÇ£building the right ItΓÇ¥?). An example Albert gives is┬áhow the original Palm Pilot started off as a Pretotype: the inventor took a block of wood small enough to fit in a pocket, put some paper on it with some simple user interface and went about his life to see if he would actually ΓÇ£useΓÇ¥ his Palm Pilot┬áon a daily basis.
The end of the podcast makes an important distinction between Pretotyping and doing surveys or focus groups: for surveys & focus groups the participants have┬áno skin in the game.┬áIt is not enough to describe your idea to people and ask┬áif they would buy it because itΓÇÖs all fantasy; during the survey/focus group people can easily say they want it but after you launch there is no guarantee that they will buy it. A simple way of getting people to put some skin in the game is asking for a down-payment after showing the Pretotype. Elon Musk did this with the Tesla car. And I suppose Kickstarter is another example of having people put skin in the game.
Celebrate failures but not all failures are the same
An interesting anecdote in the podcast is one where Google X celebrates teams that fail.┬áThere is something to be said in encouraging people that itΓÇÖs OK to fail. However Albert cautions that not all failures are the same. Celebrate the fast failures that you learn from. If it took too long to fail and you learned little from it, that might be a sign that some introspection is needed.
ΓÇ£You can fail and get funded againΓÇ¥
This line caught my attention┬ábecause of BruneiΓÇÖs current economic situation. The country has been dependent on oil exports for decades and weΓÇÖve been unable to create any sustainable industry to help prop up the economy. And with the global drop in oil prices weΓÇÖre already feeling the pinch.
The natural┬áaction to take is to┬ástop funding initiatives that arenΓÇÖt showing results. It makes sense: if resources are dwindling we should make the best use of them. ThereΓÇÖs certainly room to debate whether or not we should be taking risks in such a precarious situation but for me the lesson is to┬áexperiment and fail when you have the resources.
And in that same vein,┬ácreate an environment where failure is OK when you have the resources. There are very few cultures where failure is tolerated and the usual consequence is termination. But remember the example of Silicon Valley: it is an entire area where failure is not the end of the world.
From the podcast:
Any innovative organization needs to make it OK to fail, because if it┬ñs not OK to fail nobody will every try anything.
Something to think about.