Are We Failing Enough

One of the first aspects of Stos Enso's organizational culture that was transmitted to the trainees was the importance of innovation. Around 70% of all major Stora Enso's innovations have their roots at our customers. But although we constantly hear about innovation success stories we forget about sharing/asking for one of the most important aspects of success: FAILURE. Failure and innovation are more related to each other than we think; the more we fail, the more we learn, the closer we are to our goal.

Are We Failing Enough

I recently joined a MOOC (Massive open online course) called "Creativity, Innovation and Change" by Penn State University. During the first weeks Dr. Jack Matson introduced the concept of Intelligent Fast Failure (IFF) and its relation to creativity and innovation. With the IFF concept Dr. Matson encourages to analyze intelligently failures to maximize the knowledge we can get from each one of them. He suggests to make failures faster in order to use the minimum amount of resources in the shortest possible time and iterate as much as possible. During the Penn State's MOOC we were reminded to see the frequency and intensity of failure experienced as a sign of progress. As an example of how Intelligent Fast Failure stimulates innovation, Dr. Matson describes how a bird builds a nest. The bird "collects twigs and places them on a small ledge. The wind blows some of the twigs away. The bird sees this and brings in larger twigs. A rainstorm washes some twigs away. The bird replaces those with heavier twigs. Eventually the nest is built. For the bird, each failure provides a partial truth. When sufficient knowledge was acquired, the bird is able to build a lasting nest. Multiple failures contained the partial truths with which the bird is able to achieve its goal." One interesting story about innovation is how Google came up with the idea of Google Glass. During a brainstorming session the idea of wearable intelligent glasses came up and within 90 minutes the team in charged built a prototype that weighed 3.5kg that was composed by a computer in a backpack and wires connecting the computer to ski goggles. Since then, Google innovation team has been iterating on the final product (and failing many times). 2 years later, they haven't launched a final product yet but they certainly are getting closer since it has already been classified as one of the most promising devices of the next decade. On our side, the inauguration of the Innovation Centre in Stockholm and the many Open Innovation Projects running in the company are evidences that innovation and creativity are part of Stora Enso's DNA. Will all our ideas suceed? Of course not, but we should we be willing to fail as many times as possible and embrace the knowledge we get from each of those experiences in order to rethink our business models, products and services. For each of us that are part of the organization and want to innovate at our daily work some of the right questions to ask ourselves are: Am I developing enough new ideas? Am I having enough failures to learn from? Am I failing fast? What am I learning from my failures? Do you have any failures you have learned from and brought you closer to success? Any ideas on how to spread failure stories within our organization so we all get the chance to learn from them? Feel free to share! #innovation #storaensoGROW #failure

Oscar Duarte

Business Developer, Düsseldorf Office (Group)

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