Friday, May 12, 2017

Why Finish a Conference with Failure?

In my first conference blog I wrote about starting as you wish to end. At the end of Day Three of FEI 17 the message is the same. At the end of three days, mixing with your tribe, immersed in innovation, talking to people who speak the same language, start the next phase of the journey as you mean for it to end.

Conference MC Mike Maddock suggested to attendees that if they aren’t achieving what they believe to be essential, to consider leaving their organisation. I couldn’t agree more having exited an organisation that was debilitating and stifling and that simply didn’t have my back. In hindsight it was the best thing that could have happened. As ‘they’ say, hindsight is a wonderful thing.

Marc Randolph, CEO of Netflix, gave the most honest and open response to the elephant question in every ideation and innovation room or meeting,  “How do you know if it’s going to work”. The truth is, we never know. Not for sure. But here’s what you need according to the CEO if you want to find out:

1.     Tolerance For Risk
2.     An idea (that doesn’t even have to be original or complex)
3.     The Confidence to find out by trying it out.

At he beginning of the innovation journey, “nobody knows anything”.  We have heard several times at the conference that all ideas don’t make it. 

Marc Randolph had 1 idea that made it and 6 that didn’t. Other figures quoted over the last few days suggest the same ratios. If you want to ‘make it’ you have to have great ideas and be prepared to iterate and test and pivot and take a chance and be resilient and be able to get back up when you get knocked down.

Marc Randolph’s reaction when Blockbuster Video refused to buy them for the $50M they were in debt for was, “We just have to kick their ass”.  And that’s exactly what Netflix did.

We are doomed to fail because we are immersed in innovation. Whether you are an entrepreneur or an intrapreneur, you are probably solving problems in your head every minute of every day. That means you are more than likely coming up with solutions to those problems every minute of every day. Guaranteed they will not all work or be accepted. Failure. Constant. Failure.

But with each failure we learn something. And with each learning, we are closer to success. And if you don’t give it a go, how will you ever know.

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