The Surprising Effect of Innovation Failures on the Product Pipeline

Blog Post Innovation that Creates New Value

You would not be wrong to think of innovation as a way to get new and better products to market more quickly. But if that’s the only way your company thinks about innovation, then you’re missing out.

You can also bring innovation to managing, leadership and, indeed, almost any business activity. In fact, innovation can, and should, be one of the core competencies of your business.

And what happens when innovation in management and leadership happens? Many great things. Let’s name just two.

Innovation makes workers work better.

No matter how many machines we employ in the workplace, in the end, business is a human activity. Innovation as a core competency depends on every person in the organization being tuned in to new possibilities and having a channel to turn those possibilities into realities.

In that way, a commitment to innovation in all aspects of the business helps create an environment where people feel they are more valued and where they enjoy coming to work more. That has a direct impact on the bottom line: A workforce full of people who want to work and can contribute on a higher level is a workforce that provides your company with a competitive advantage.

Innovation turns failure into success.

Here’s the hard truth: Innovation often fails. A company that commits to making innovation a core competency has to accept those failures. The bonus is it can also learn from them.

Anyone remember the Boeing Sonic Cruiser? Probably not. That project, which the company launched in 2001, was aimed at revolutionizing air travel by providing a large jet that could fly at just under the speed of sound, or about 20 percent faster than today’s commercial jets.

But after a year in development, Boeing found that its customers didn’t want more speed. They wanted less expensive planes with high operational capacity. That means Boeing’s innovation failed. Except it didn’t. Innovation creates knowledge and learning. Boeing took many of the technologies it had developed for the Sonic Cruiser — resilient, lightweight, carbon-fiber materials among them — and put them into its new 787 Dreamliner, an innovation that some now consider the future of commercial aviation.

In short: Innovation, even when it’s not successful, can beget more, and more successful innovation.

Are you incorporating innovation in your change management?