February 12, 2019

38: How to Unleash New Ideas Through Failure with Jesse Fowl

“It’s OK to fail.” Really? Does anyone actually believe that? No matter how genuine your intent, innovation will never flourish while your team remains constrained by systems designed to enforce and reward traditional metrics of success. So how can you truly invest in new ideas and recognize “failure” as a vital part of the idea development cycle?

This week, I speak with Jesse Fowl, managing director and lead strategist at Solomon where he coaches clients to help them create a safe space for innovations while keeping fiscal responsibility front and center.

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Read the related blog article: How to Fail More (Effectively)

Key Takeaways:

  • Failure is both a “dirty word” and something we’ve started to embrace through methods like lean startup, agile and “fail fast, fail cheap”.
  • Innovation typically looks like this: one person has an idea; they generate lots of buy in which takes a long time, slowing the cycle of innovation; but it spreads out the risk so if it fails, it wasn’t just one person’s bad idea – we all bought into it.
  • To create a culture in which innovation and creativity flourish, you need processes, tools, systems and a psychologically safe space which in combination foster innovation.
  • Hide failures and promote successes by turning failures in ‘frequency of learning.’ What are all the ideas to explore and how will we measure each? In this way, you are protected from failure because you’re focused on finding and promoting what works, knowing that some things won’t.
  • Design small learning experiments that have clear measures that will provide the essential information within a constrained time/budget. Without constraints, experimentation will be elongated and slow.
  • To do this you need clarity on the goal and what success looks like. You also need time for innovation and creativity, when we aren’t swept up in the daily activities.
  • Different people contribute to innovation in different ways so design multiple opportunities for engagement e.g. have a brainstorm session with sticky notes, have a verbal ideation session, collect ideas ongoing rather than just during an innovation session.
  • When an experiment get big, it becomes about getting it right rather than about learning. And when you need to get it right, it’s hard to let an unsuccessful idea go.


Website: http://gosolomon.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jessecfowl

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