Being innovative means, by definition, working in an uncertain environment.
Columbia Business School Professor Rita Gunther McGrath writes
in the Harvard Business Review that while “failure is inevitable” in such a context, believing in “intelligent failures” can teach you useful lessons.
She recommends 7 practical principles to help your organization better plan for, manage and learn from failure:
Principle 1: At the very beginning of a project, ensure that everyone agrees on the same definition of success.
Principle 2: Make your assumptions explicit, and design small experiments to test and revise them where possible.
Principle 3: Fail quickly – “quick, decisive failures” have several benefits, from limiting the number of resources that could be lost to shrinking the time needed to establish cause and effect relationships.
Fail cheaply – similar to Principle 3, reduce your downside risk by testing a prototype or adopting 3M’s philosophy of “make a little, sell a little
Principle 5: Limit uncertainties “at any particular decision point” whenever possible.
Principle 6: Build a culture that encourages and celebrates intelligent risk-taking, and doesn’t punish people for any resulting failures.
Principle 7: Capture the lessons you learn, and share them with others in your organization.