Failure is an Option!

Dan Vonder Heide,   Board Member

Dan Vonder Heide,

Board Member

We've all heard the Post-It note story and how such a successful product was the result of a less than successful experiment. Innovation is often the result of such initial failure, though failure in itself doesn't lead to innovation. Rather it's how we deal with that failure - recognizing the potential. Best practices to promote creativity, iterative and innovative progress tell us that it's when we're able to embrace our mishaps, learn from them, and build upon them that real innovation emerges.

Embracing failure is not always easy. The pressure to succeed and never fail is entrenched in each of us throughout our lives. We just have to think back to our school days and remember the effects that the pressure of failing a class had on all of us (at least most of us). Failing in academia or in the workplace has never been embraced as an accepted outcome.

Still, organizations often say they have a willingness for trial and error and that failure is accepted. For this type of culture to be a reality, the organization must have leaders who are willing to champion new ideas and initiatives that may lead to innovative results. We have to ask ourselves if we're that type of leader. How do we create an environment that motivates, inspires and fosters our teams to experiment and possibly lead to the next innovative idea? 

Where can we learn from others and foster a culture of innovation in our organizations? You  won't want to miss our next SIM event, Winning vs 'Failing' in Innovation Design, on Tuesday, February 19th at Maggiano's in Skokie where you'll hear how several Chicago Innovation Award winners navigated their journey to a winning result. Visit  for a list of speakers and event details.