Unexpected Failure

Just like the unexpected success, Peter Drucker advocated that unexpected failure also should be considered a symptom of an innovative opportunity.

Many failures often are nothing but human mistakes, the results of greed, impulsiveness, thoughtless groupthink, or incompetence.

Yet if something fails despite being carefully planned, thoughtfully designed, and conscientiously executed, that failure often can provide hints to under-the-surface change and with it, opportunity.

The underlying changes, often shift in customer values and perceptions, can challenge our assumptions. The failure may show that the assumptions we apply to a product or service in its design or marketing can be outdated.

The unexpected failure demands that we go out, look around, and listen to the customers. Equally, a competitor’s unexpected success or failure should be noticed and studied.

When trying to get the most understanding out of a failure, Drucker suggested we do not only analyze internally but also investigate externally.

Identify the important unexpected failures, both yours or a competitor’s. Identify plausible explanations for the failure and apply these lessons to future activities.