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Unexpected Failure

Failure should always be considered a symptom of an innovative opportunity.

The unexpected failure demands that you go out, look around, and listen. A competitor’s unexpected success or failure is equally important. Failure should always be considered a symptom of an innovative opportunity, and taken seriously as such. One does not just “analyze.” One goes out to investigate. A good many failures are, of course, nothing but mistakes, the results of greed, stupidity, thoughtless bandwagon-climbing, or incompetence, whether in design or execution. Yet if something fails despite being carefully planned, carefully designed, and conscientiously executed, that failure often bespeaks underlying change and with it, opportunity.

Unexpected failure often informs us of underlying changes in customer values and perceptions. The assumptions upon which a product or service, its design or market strategy, were based can quickly become outdated. Perhaps customers have changed their value proposition—they may be buying the same thing, but they are actually purchasing a very different value. For example, after the failure of the Edsel, Ford decided that income segmentation no longer applied to the automobile industry. Rather, it was lifestyle segmentation that mattered to consumers.

ACTION POINT: Identify an important unexpected failure, yours or a competitor’s. Identify plausible explanations for the failure. Apply these lessons to your current business.

Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Driving Change (Corpedia Online Program)

* Source: The Daily Drucker by Peter F. Drucker

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