Saturday, February 4, 2012

Failure In Innovation

Failure plays a vital role in innovation. As noted in Townsend (2010), failure has value as it allows organizations to learn from mistakes. In addition, "innovations [that do not meet with success] should not be discarded, since it is inevitable that they will find value in some context. The issue for managerial practitioners is to find the correct context through which to capitalize on this value" (Townsend, 2010, p. 78). A "free to fail" workplace atmosphere allows opportunities for leaders--and followers--to dream a little and think "outside the box". Establishing and promoting a "failure-tolerant environment for innovation hypothesis testing and experimentation does not do as much to guide the behavior of an employee with an insight as it does to remind us that all ideas have value" (Townsend, 2010, p. 79). Even though current research data is limited as it relates to unsuccessful innovation, the fact remains that value can be garnered from such "failed" innovations. Failure leads to improvement and a better understanding of what innovations may be more successful in the future.


Townsend, W. (2010). Innovation and the value of failure. International Journal of Management & Marketing Research, 3(1), 75-84. Retrieved from

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