“Let´s celebrate our failures to learn what success is all about”, was one of my learnings from the Finish Innovation Bootcamp in Jyväskyla in Finland. Colleagues of mine from Business Arena Ltd. invited me and it was great fun and a learning intensive experience working together with 11 colleagues from economic and employment agencies, Innovation and start-up centres at Universities and network facilitators. The „Camp“ provided a great open platform to together connect the dots of failures and successes in a very action-driven way.
Apart from additional impressions, (see other article) I realized again that in a group of open-minded and creative people, even short comments can create a butterfly effect and great common ideas. Often the initial stages of such conversations pop up at moments of relaxation and within a nice atmosphere.
After we worked the whole day for better innovative solutions to bring products from the laboratory to the market we were sitting in the evening together in the dining room of the old and cosy seminar wood house with a nice wine. Relaxed from the Evening-Sauna and after a nice dinner, somebody of the participants reflected loudly and humorously about his hope for concrete outcomes the upcoming day, using the phrase from Samuel Beckett: „Ever try, ever fail, no matter, Try again. Fail again. Fail better“. This encouraged another person to tell the story of the “Mexican Day of the Dead” where Mexicans celebrate their lost souls through humorous, life-affirming and grateful rituals. One comment and joint laugh succeeded the other and the result was finally a list of concrete opportunities for action that use failures as the basis for the search of innovative solutions:
- “Cemetery of innovative but not realized business ideas”: Putting some tombstones in front of your University, research or start-up center and publicly bury the inventions that did not make it to the market. This is done in a humorous as well as motivating way to encourage a reflection about opportunities for a stronger market orientation
- “Flower Garden of Failures” e.g. at business parks in which everybody can leave stones between flowers to appreciate the failures that contributed to career and personal development
- Perspective-Workshop to encourage future failures: The basic idea of this short workshop (around 1 hour) could entail questions that can be discussed quickly using e.g. the Mesocard rules e.g. in a meeting of an innovation agency, a business, a university for applied science, a research incubator or in any other network. Examples of questions could be: “Where do we need to make more failures to increase our learning (or to improve our market orientation)?”, “What did we not do, but always wanted to try?”, etc. .
We could have come up with more ideas and maybe you have others that pop up in your mind (Please send them under „Comentaries“!) Often such ideas can encourage more deeper and collective learning processes as long as they are really implemented and followed up.
In our daily work on economic and innovation promotion most of the stakeholders rarely like to exchange about their failures. It became rather a pattern to hide important failures due to many reasons and wrong incentives. On the other hand we all know that the promotion of structural and economic change requires early movers and drivers who are taking failures as a chance for change. This first of all requires a positive and optimistic attitude about change and the willingness towards concrete action. At the innovation bootcamp I felt this willingness very strongly! Together with Business Arena the Innovation Centre representative from the University of Jyväskyla wants to realize the „Cemetery of failed innovation ideas“ already in the next 2 weeks. This is a dynamic that can result from just a class of wine with dedicated persons!