Examples of Successful Innovation Practices

Freedom to Fail Forward






IDEO Tom Kelley creativity innovation quotes

Fail often to succeed sooner... Good companies embrace a culture of mini-failures. Setbacks aren’t problems, they’re opportunities.

Tom Kelley




"Golden Turkey Award"

One company interested in addressing a serious deficiency in risk taking established a “Golden Turkey Award” that was given quarterly, with a light-hearted yet serious spirit, to the individual or team  with the greatest “innovation failure.” Given publicly by the CEO, the award became a symbol of the importance of accepting and proactively learning from failure as an essential element of the innovation process.


Innovation Jokes

How To Prevent Innovation: 10 Humorous Tips

Humorous Business Plan

Successfool Innovation





Michael Dell advice

To encourage people to innovate more, you have to make it safe for them to fail.

Michael Dell





Culture for Innovation


Turn Failures to Opportunities

Ask Learning SWOT Questions







Richard Branson business advice quotes

You don't learn to walk by following rules.
You learn by doing, and by falling over.

Richard Branson

Virgin Group

Akio Morita advice quotes Sony

Don’t be afraid to make a mistake. But make sure you don’t make the same mistake twice.

Akio Morita


Henry Ford advice

Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.

Henry Ford

Ford Motor




"Life itself is a process of trial and error... And those people who make no mistakes are those who make nothing."

~ Alfred P. Sloan, the man who made General Motors
most successful and profitable industrial enterprise




Prevent Failures

noble Failure




Case Studies Silicon Valley

What makes Silicon Valley so successful as the engine of high-tech growth is the Darwinian process of failure. Commentator and author Mike Malone puts it like this, 'Outsiders think of Silicon Valley as a success, but it is, in truth, a graveyard. Failure is Silicon Valley's greatest strength. Every failed product or enterprise is a lesson stored in the collective memory. We don't stigmatize failure, we admire it. Venture Capitalists like to see a little failure in the résumés of entrepreneurs.' 

Case Studies Charles Schwab

Charles Schwab journals their failures and lessons they've learned. They maintain also a display of failed innovations and created a videotape for employee orientation. When celebration of noble failure becomes institutionalized, people within the organization are more willing to reassess earlier decisions and take corrective measures... More

Case Studies Dell Inc.

"At Dell Inc, innovation is all about taking risks and learning from failure," writes Michael Dell in his book Direct from Dell. "To tap into this kind of innovation, we do our best to make sure that people aren't afraid of the possibility of failure, and we do a lot of experiments. For instance, one of our managers in the consumer group came up with the idea to offer installation service to consumers in order to reach people who might be apprehensive about setting up a new computer. The idea seemed like it would help out a group of customers, and it made a lot of sense from a cost standpoint as well.

We knew from our experience with business customers that when our staff installs a computer, the incidence of set-up failures is almost zero. The consumer team threw around the idea, did a pilot with one group of salespeople, and found out what worked and what didn't. Within two weeks, we'd made this service available to every consumer in the United States. I actually found out about this by accident – it wasn't something that we had a bunch of meetings about in boardrooms. Incremental improvements and experiments happen all the time."

"Mobilize your people around a singe goal. A company of self-reliant "owners" sounds great in theory, but it can be chaos if the goals aren't clear to all," says Michael Dell. "At Dell, it's worked for us because we came up with a consistent strategy and well-articulated objectives.

  • Make failure acceptable as long as it creates Learning opportunities. There's no risk in preserving the status quo – but there's no profit either... More

Case Studies Johnson & Johnson

"If you are not failing, you won't succeed. If you can't succeed, you can't grow," said Robert Wood Johnson, former chairman of Johnson & Johnson. "Companies with a high awareness of culture's importance to innovation have visible, tangible, and frequently humorous reminders that it's okay to take risk – that a person won't be beheaded for sincere attempts that fail."

Case Studies Wall-Mart

In his 10 Rules for Building a Successful Business, Sam Walton, the Founder of Wall-Mart writes: "Find some humor in your failures. Don't take yourself so seriously. Loosen up, and everybody around you will loosen up. Have fun. Show enthusiasm – always. When all else fails, put on a costume and sing a silly song. Then make everybody else sing with you.

Don't do a hula on Wall Street. It's been done. Think up your own stunt. All of this is more important, and more fun, than you think, and it really fools competition. "Why should we take those cornballs at Wal-Mart seriously?"... More

Case Studies Google

Sheryl Sandberg, a vice president in charge of the company's automated advertising system committed an error that cost Google several million dollars. When she realized the magnitude of her mistake, she went to inform Larry Page, Google's co-founder and unofficial Thought Leader Download PowerPoint presentation, pdf e-book. "God, I feel really bad about this,"

Sandberg told Page, who accepted her apology. But as she turned to leave, Page said, "I'm so glad you made this mistake, because I want to run a company where we are moving too quickly and doing too much, not being too cautious and doing too little. If we don't have any of these mistakes, we're just not taking enough risk." ... More

Inspiring People: 4 Strategies 


Case Studies Coca-Cola

Communicating the message from the top that failure is part of the innovation process Download PowerPoint presentation, pdf e-book has been something that, CEO and Chairman of Coca-Cola, E. Neville Isdell, did at their annual meeting, where he declared: “You will see some failures. As we take more risks, this is something we must accept as part of the regeneration process”. Isdell wanted Coca-Cola to take bigger risks, tolerate failures and change Coke’s traditional risk-averse culture. Failure is so important to the experimental process, without it there is no learning. The key is to have intelligent failures, and preferably those that happen early and inexpensively, which then lead to new insights about customers.


Case Studies GE

Punishing for falling short of a stretch goal is counterproductive. "If the company aimed at 15 and made 12, celebrate. What's critical is setting the performance bar high enough; otherwise, it's impossible to find out what people can do," says Jack Welch, the former legendary CEO of GE.