It’s a given in business that you can’t hit it out of the park 100 percent of the time. You’re going to have some ideas that flop worse than a fish tossed into a dance party. And innately, you may want to forget those ‘failures’ and everything they represented (even though it can be leveraged to your advantage). But Samuel West really doesn’t want you to. He wants you to be proud of your company’s not-so-grand ideas and has started a museum dedicated to that very purpose.
Why put what didn’t work on display?
West’s Museum of Failure features everything from an electric-shock beauty mask to a beef lasagna by none other than Colgate. The point, West says is to help professionals move away from the idea of perfection and accept that being innovative is, in fact, a process that requires trying a lot of different things that might (or might not) work.
Bottom line, It’s OK to fail, simply because every failure teaches you invaluable lessons and allows you to improve. And West’s museum is immensely helpful because it proves that, when it comes to that analysis and build-up process, you’re in the same boat as brands that have been around for years. They tried again, and so can you. In essence, it’s a display that screams “Don’t give up!” at you.
Putting the museum concept to work in the office
West’s concept has some connotations for your everyday business operations, too. For example, you could:
- give fun, desirable prizes for concepts voted to be “the worst” for the week to get rid of failure stigma (worst idea box, anyone?).
- put posters of failed products with positive captions up around the office as lighthearted, self-depreciating reminders to keep trying, or to remind team members getting a success takes time.
- Present “failures” more readily to help mentees or employees see you as more relatable, human, and trustworthy.
Maybe most importantly? Accepting failure as OK means less stress. We all could go for that.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.