• 08.24.09

Innovation and Failure

There is a good relationship between innovation and failure. As Monica Harrington shares, Microsoft Bob gave plenty of very smart people a run for their money – and lessons to take to their next project.   Those are familiar lessons. Building on Harrington’s:

Failure, movie poster

1. Never underdeliver against expectations – if you work in a sales-driven organization, common especially in B2B, you will know that there is a tendency to overpromise to get in the door. That might not be such a good idea.


2. Consumers don’t care about strategy – that’s right, your customers won’t care if you have a vision. All they want is for your service or product to make their life easier.

3. A small marketing budget can do wonders – believe it or not, I do think that the potential of social media will be realized most by B2B companies. After a career spent working with them, I know how small their budgets are and how creative teams get with them.

4. If you start to get feedback from customers that your product is anything but great, don’t forget that you only get one chance to make a first impression – this pint is really hard because it feels like you need to keep backing a decision made to invest time and effort in something.

5. Don’t be afraid to take risks – one of the worst habits organizations get into is that of not taking any risks, which translates into not supporting individuals who think outside the benchmark. If it’s not been done before, there are no benchmarks.

6. Place the bet on smart people who push the envelope – why do so few organizations do that? Why do so few individuals do that, too? What are three ways you can bet on smart people in your network and company today?

7. Never forget the crucial role influentials play – every industry, type of service, and product has them. Go find out who they are and engage them in the process – testing, providing feedback and input will save you from your internal conversation with additional context.


8. If it doesn’t work the first time, be open to the idea that it might work down the line – sometimes it does pay to be persistent, to go back and fix the bugs or undesirable product features.

9. Don’t be afraid to poke fun at yourself – loved the video of Bill Gate’s last day at Microsoft.

The times when I’ve learned the most, were those when things didn’t go exactly as planned. What lessons have you taken from failure?


Read more of Valeria Maltoni’s Customer Conversation

Valeria Maltoni helps businesses understand how customers and communities have changed marketing, public relations, and communications – and how to build value in this new environment. As a communicator with 20 years of experience, 10 of which online, she specializes in marketing communications, customer dialogue, and brand management. Valeria has come to define modern business as a long and open conversation. Conversation Agent is recognized among the world’s top online marketing blogs.