Failure is Part of Innovation

Yesterday I wrote an article about how we need to create a safe environment for our teams, one where they feel comfortable taking risks knowing that they will not be punished if they make mistakes, because mistakes are not the same as failure and they are essential to our learning process. This was reinforced for me today when I was watching an interview with theSir James Dyson about his plan to invest a further £1.5bn into research and development to create future products, including funding for a campus at the Dyson UK headquarters in Malmesbury.

Dyson was named as one of the The Top 10 Worlds Most Innovative Companiesby FAST Company in March 2014.

As part of the interview one of the Design Engineers was asked about working for Dyson and what it was like to work in an innovative company and it was this that discussion which I really liked.

The engineer said that it was great to work in the Dyson labs because they were allowed to try anything, and they weren’t afraid to make mistakes, because to make breakthroughs in innovation you need to try lots of new things and it’sobvious that not all of them will be successful.

So failures were an accepted part of the process.

Now whilst many might think thats ok, because these guys are designers, inventors, and thats a normal part of their work, but it’s not the same in other areas of business or in other functions.

But aren’t we always asking our people to innovate, to try to find new ways to do things, isn’tfaster, better, cheapera standard demand in all businesses.

I know that in my own roles for that past 10 years this was always the goal, we were always being asked to innovate, to find new ways to do things.

So shouldn’t we then make failure a standard part of that process. If we want people to be inventive, creative and innovative then we should given them the same leeway as the designers and inventors at Dysons’.

If we do that then maybe we will see the same kind of results that Dyson has achieved.

If you want to know about how to create inspired teams contact me at


Gordon has worked in Transformational Leadership roles for over 20 years, running $100m+ programs, leading $200m+ Global Operations Departments, and implementing large complex Organisational Change programs for Fortune 100 companies. Gordon is an Inspiring Leader who not only sees the big picture, can communicate a vision, but who also rolls up his sleeves and gets his hands dirty, which has helped him build highly motivated teams wherever he has worked. Now Gordon is the CEO and Founder of L...

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