Last week I was in a golf tournament for my college fraternity Beta Theta Pi and had the pleasure of being grouped with several current students. After a few stories of debauchery and crazy antics from over twenty years ago we got on to the subject of careers. One of the students mentioned that he was majoring in Information Systems which also was my undergraduate degree. The discussion triggered a flashback of the amazing amount of discovery that seemed to be bombarding me at that time in my life. Looking back over my “career path” I now realize how I have continually struggled to maintain that extraordinary sense of discovery I felt then.
With so many people preaching advice on failure these days (Fail Early, Fail Fast, Fail Often) I thought it might be worth trying to clarify the difference between a failure and a mistake. So often the media loves to amplify the drama surrounding failures by highlighting all of the negative connotations. Words like nosedive, bomb, flop and collapse are frequent synonyms used for failing and each one tries to convey the severity of a failure that may or may not be appropriate. By working toward a common definition we may be able to short circuit the negative implications and fear that many people have with the word failure.
One of the things I hate most about our sensationalist news media is how quick we are to label someone as a failure after they have failed. One of the topics that I focus on with my consulting practice is that being innovative requires failing frequently but that doesn’t equate to being a “Failure.” This is true in the arts as well as in business. Perhaps television audiences don’t tune-in to our new show, theater goers skip our new release movie (see my Lone Ranger post), or customers choose not to buy our new product. Each of these are all very complicated endeavors, each with an infinite amount of variables that we can try to control for. We can layout the most thorough and thoughtful plan but sometimes we will miss the mark – we will fail.
According to MarketWatch, Disney’s The Lone Ranger brought in just $48.9 million in its first five days in theaters. Industry experts estimate that the movie cost between $215 million and $250 million to create. With such high production costs, analysts have a bleak outlook that Disney will be able to recoup their costs even with overseas royalties. How in the era of powerful market testing can there be such a big gap between expectations and reality. How can there still be such big box office failures? Many of the biggest bombs are able to recoup revenue through global distribution (see the list of the Biggest Movie Failures).
So today is the 1st anniversary of launching my blog on leadership, innovation, and failure. I cannot even start to explain how much I have learned along the way. My goal was to mix my ideas and my research trying to post at least one article per week. Over the last year I have written 68 posts which have been read by over 5000 unique visitors to the blog. I would like to offer a huge “thank you” to everyone who took the time to comment, provide feedback, or help share my articles with your networks!
Receive periodic email updates from Matt Hunt including his published pieces, updates on his progress, and more!