The Museum of Failure was recently opened in Helsingborg, Sweden. To many this may feel like an overly negative place to visit but underneath it shows how key failure is to success. The Museum of Failure showcases a wide range of about 70 items and products that failed. Some you may have heard of like Google Glass and Nokia N-Gage but there is a wide range I had never heard of such as Bic for Her!
They include products which failed not because it was a bad idea but because the surrounding environment was not there to enable it to be a success. The Apple Newton form factor of a tablet communication tool has proven that if you have the infrastructure and key technical components, such as the interface, what was seen as a failed product can be turned into a success.
What do I think are some of the key learnings that can be taken from these failed products:
- Sometimes you have the right product at the wrong time – need to not only look at the product itself but also at what supporting technologies are needed to make it a success.
- Sometimes the technology is right but culturally it is wrong. Google Glass failed not completely because of technical reasons ( even though they were very ugly and unattractive to wear) but because of concerns round personal privacy. You need to make sure your product is not over stepping the line.
- Sometime you are trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist – you need to remember that just because you can do something does not mean you should.
I always love Einsteins quote about failure - “Failure is success in progress” - so we should be celebrating failures as much as successes since they are just the early stages of success.
You can find out more about the Museum of Failure at http://museumoffailure.se