“A brilliant idea badly executed often results in a better idea executed brilliantly!” – Futurist Jim Carroll
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When Amazon launched the infamous Fire Phone, it failed.
How did Jeff Bezos react?
“If you think that’s a big failure, we’re working on much bigger failures right now — and I am not kidding. Some of them are going to make the Fire Phone look like a tiny little blip.”
In other words, it was a great failure! He went on to comment:
“It is our job, if we want to be innovative and pioneering, to make mistakes and as the company has gotten big — we have $100 billion-plus in annual sales, 250,000-plus people — the size of your mistakes needs to grow along with that.
You need to be making big, noticeable failures. The great thing is that, when you take this approach, a small number of winners pay for dozens, hundreds of failures, and so every single important thing we’ve done has taken a lot of risk, risk-taking, perseverance, guts, and some have worked out. Most of them have not. That has to happen at every scale level all the way down.”
This is part of the whole concept that great ideas – perhaps not a brilliant idea in the case of the Fire Phone – can often become the springboard for great success later on, providing the very foundation for that next great idea!
Consider a few great ideas that failed – or were perceived to be a certain failure – that later become brilliant opportunities:
- When Amazon launched it’s Web Services Business, most analysts predicted massive losses and that it might actually kill the company. Today, this division is worth billions and is hugely successful.
- the Apple Newton was a spectacular failure but paved the way for the brilliant launch of the iPad and iPhone many years later.
- Nintendo’s Virtual Boy, a 3D gaming console, was supposed to be the future of gaming. A flop, it suffered from major technological flaws. But it gave the organization a pathway forward to develop the widely successful gaming technology that Nintendo would eventually bring to market.
- The IBM PCjr, an early home computer, was wonderfully pathetic, and never did manage to compete with the Apple II. But it provided insight to IBM on how to successfully compete in the PC market, leading to the market-dominating IBM PC and XT.
- Google Glass was a great idea – a wearable computer that was supposed to revolutionize the way we interact with technology. However, it was far too expensive and didn’t work very well, and Google eventually discontinued it. Today, we are seeing a resurgence of interest and exploration in the idea of smart goggles and glasses – and Google will launch a newer version of the original idea almost a decade later.
- Google Wave, a product that was supposed to support online collaboration, failed, but it eventually led to the widely successful Google Drive and other cloud servicess that the company offers.
You can play around with this phrasing in many different ways to come up with great innovation mindset opportunities; for example, I originally started out with a modification of the quote, but it didn’t fit what I was trying to explain! “A brilliant idea badly executed is far better than a bad idea executed brilliantly!”
Whatever the case may be, always remember that a great idea – even if it fails – is often better than no idea at all!
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