Learning from Failure

How to Embrace Risk and Succeed in Innovation

Learning from Failure

GUEST POST from Art Inteligencia

Innovation requires individuals and organizations to not only recognize opportunities for development but also the risks involved in potential failure. The key to successful innovation is learning to embrace these risks, as failure often provides invaluable opportunities to grow and improve.

For many people, failure can be seen as a cause of embarrassment, or a sign of shame. However, history shows us that for ambitious and creative problem-solvers, failure often leads to success. Many famous innovations, from penicillin to the light bulb, were the product of multiple failed experiments and experiences. It can be said that successful innovators accept failure as an essential part of the challenge, with each roadblock providing an opportunity to re-evaluate, re-calibrate and eventually succeed.

The following case studies demonstrate how failure can be embraced in order to succeed in innovation.

Case Study 1 – Apple’s First Foray Into Home Computing

In 1979, Apple Computer Inc. released the Apple II, one of the very first consumer-level home computers. Following their success, Apple felt inspired to launch a new product, the Apple III. Unfortunately, due to a flaw in the design, the product was met with customer disappointment, especially compared to their first success. Rather than be disheartened by this failure, the team instead learned from their experience and created the famous Macintosh computer in 1984. Apple had taken the risk to build a new product, and in doing so, learned valuable lessons about hardware and software integration through their mistake, eventually leading to the invention of the Macintosh.

Case Study 2 – Gatorade’s Introduction of Crystal Light

In 1983, Gatorade, a company known for their sporting drinks, decided to create a sweetened drink for non-athletic types. Pitched as an excellent source of vitamins, the Gatorade Crystal Light was designed as a dietary beverage for the active lifestyle. Unfortunately, due to its overly sweet flavor, unfavorable packaging, and ignored target market, the product flopped compared to their existing product. Confronted with this failure, Gatorade instead chose to analyze market research and completely revamp their product. After two years, they re-launched the product with a more natural flavor, sustainably sourced ingredients, and a lighter label. This new version of the product was much more successful and is still available in stores today.


Both of these examples demonstrate that failure is an essential component of innovation, and can be a crucible for improvement. Failure teaches us to recognize which ideas and approaches were successful, and what mistakes to avoid in the future. Furthermore, failure pushes us to remain creative and ambitious, as it continually encourages us to try new things and think differently.

Ultimately, the ability to accept failure and adjust ideas and strategies based on customer feedback is key to successful innovation. As we continue to identify opportunities for increased growth and development, we must approach each hurdle with the understanding that mistakes are necessary, and often lead to learning and improvement. The key is to not be sidelined by failure, but embrace it for all it’s worth.

Image credit: Pexels

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