in Business Design

The Failure of Failure

Much has been written about the importance of failure in design. To improve things we need to try new approaches which sometimes work and sometimes don’t. Straight forward enough, at least to designers.

But business managers won’t go near that. “Yes, I need to fail!” Bull-shit, you ain’t gonna hear that in many management offices. So I’ve been thinking about how to re-frame the word “failure”.

“Iteration” is pretty good, but implies each pass is good and just keeps getting better. Michael Linton, CMO of Best Buy, has trials he calls “ready-fire-aim” activities. And I just thought of a new one:

A try.

This is riffing off two different words. One is “the ask” which is more commonly being used as a noun, meaning “the request” (annoyed the hell out of me for a while, but I’m adjusting). But mostly try is a riff on the rugby use of the word which refers to the major way of scoring points in that game, equivalent to a touchdown in American football.

How might I use it? The sketch looks great, let’s make one in foam core and go for a try with some customers…

It could be a wonderful evocation of cognitive dissonance, as it would simultaneously mean to make an effort as well as score!