4 steps to ensuring your company fails successfully

Leaders from Adobe, PwC and CA discuss the integral role failure plays in innovation and how organisations can better support it

Failure is an integral part of being innovative and it’s time organisations better embraced incentives, financial systems and organisational processes that support it.

That’s the view of PricewaterhouseCoopers US innovation leader, Mitra Best, who was on a panel of women leaders discussing how to drive innovation across an organisation.

“Innovation is not an extracurricular activity anymore, it’s a baseline activity,” she told attendees.

But in order to be innovative, you have to also be willing to fail. Best identified four key ways an organisation can make itself more receptive to failure, the first of which ensuring compensation models support it.

“Incentive and compensation models can’t punish failure; if you are experimenting, you can’t get deep with your experiments without it,” she said. “The second thing is learning and continuous education. At PwC, we have a huge learning and development group that has a big budget and is putting together tens of thousands of courses every year. But what we need to do is look at failed experiments, extract the learnings and then scale them.

“It’s OK to fail once, but you can’t fail again and again, that’s not a learning opportunity.”

Best’s third piece of advice is to reorient investment models to allow for failed experiments.

“More times than not, when you fail at something, you learn and want to do it differently, but that’s also often the time when they cut off your budget,” she said. “That’s not cool. As organisations, we need to fix that.”

Best’s fourth call was for finance chiefs to budget for failed experiments when they think about ROI metrics. “That makes it easier for all of us to do the other hard things we need to do around innovation,” she said.

Fellow panellist and Adobe SVP and CIO, Cynthia Stoddard, said it’s also a cultural issue. Companies need to give people time to both grow and experiment, she said.

“People need to know it is OK to fail,” she said. “We have to take the failures and turn them into learnings so people can see the organisation is embracing and using them in different ways,” she said. “That will help get that culture of innovation down tothe individual contributor level where they are comfortable with questioning, trying and failing.”

One way of helping shift thinking around failure is to change the vocabulary, Adobe VP of global business partnering and ERC, Cindy Springsteel, said.

“The word ‘failure’ throws people off and if you’re risk averse, that language can feel threatening,” she said.

For CA Technologies VP of digital marketing, Lynn Teo, it’s about adopting a test-and-learn approach that has iteration at its core. She positioned this as a reduction in waste and improvement in efficiency overall.

“We’re introducing the concept of test, learn and learn something quickly in a short amount of time, then think about what you do more of us, and what you do less of,” she said. “In the future this will be par for the course. It allows for more learnings to be taken away from past experiments. Taking a hypothesis and iterating is more positive than the notion of failure.”

-Nadia Cameron travelled to Adobe Summit in Las Vegas as a guest of Adobe.

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+:google.com/+CmoAu

Join the newsletter!

Or
Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

Social purpose: Oxygen for your brand health vitals

If trust is the new currency, then we’re in deep trouble. Here's why.

Carolyn Butler-Madden

Founder and CEO, Sunday Lunch

Customer experience disruption: Healthcare faces a bitter pill

Over the past decade, disruptors such as Amazon, Apple and Australia’s Atlassian have delivered technology enhanced customer experiences, which for the most part, have improved customers’ lives and delivered unparalleled growth. Can they do the same for healthcare?

Alex Allwood

Principal, All Work Together

How can a brand remain human in a digital world?

Some commentators estimate that by 2020, 85 per cent of buyer-seller interactions will happen online through social media and video*. That’s only two years away, and pertinent for any marketer.

James Kyd

Global head of brand strategy and marketing, Xero

https://bit.ly/2qLgzmR Transform your life a proven digital blueprint

Okitoi Steven

How this banking group tackled a digital marketing transformation

Read more

Its great to hear that companies including JCDecaux, oOh!media, Omnicom and Posterscope Australia have all partnered with Seedooh inorder...

Blue Mushroom Infozone Pvt Ltd

Out of home advertising companies strive for greater metrics and transparency

Read more

Much ado about nothingAnother fluff piece around what it could possibly do rather than what it is doing

gve

How AMP is using AI to create effortless ‘experiences’

Read more

is it true that Consumer expectations are also changing as a result. If we trust someone with our data there is also an expectation that ...

Sunita Madan

Society will decide where digital marketing takes us next: Oracle

Read more

This Blog is Very interesting to read and thank you for sharing the valuable information about Machine Learning. The information you prov...

johny blaze

What machine learning has done for the Virgin Velocity program

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in