This planet’s most successful innovators have one thing in common: They all possess a bold willingness to fail. Those failures rarely get recognized once success is achieved, but, according to Swedish psychologist Dr. Samuel West, it’s important to recognize and celebrate the role that failures play on the road to success and innovation.
West is, as he explains in his LinkedIn profile, “In charge of the Museum of Failure. An exhibition of failed innovations. The aim is to stimulate organizational learning from failure. www.museumoffailure.se.”
Why does Dr. West think that we can learn to be successful by learning about products like the Twitter Peek?
West spent seven years as a clinical psychologist before becoming a creativity researcher at Lund University and a consultant for the Swedish Research Institute. The doctor has spent his whole career seeking to understand what makes people and organizations tick.
“If you are afraid of failure, then we can’t innovate,” West explained on a YouTube video where he showed off some of the most outrageous examples of business failures.
In 2014, the Swedish researcher became the CPO — that’s Chief Psychological Officer — for Superlab.se, a group that works to “Develop and improve products, services, and organizations.” The consulting firm uses “expertise in design, psychology, and technology make [their] clients innovative and successful.”
The Museum of Failure – Innovation was created as a Superlab project. The innovation consultants brand the Helsingborg, Sweden-based museum with the tagline, “Learning is the only way to turn failure into success.”
“Museum of Failure,” as they explain on their website, “is a collection of interesting innovation failures. The majority of all innovation projects fail and the museum showcases these failures to provide visitors a fascinating learning experience.”
There are more than 60 puzzling products from around the world that make you think “What were these companies thinking?”
What the museum hopes you’ll ask, though, is, “What did the companies learn?”
Coca-Cola, for instance, is represented in the Museum of Failure with its coffee-soda blend, Coke Blak.
Coke told the New York Times that their organization “constantly tries to innovate and invest in its brands to meet consumers’ changing preferences.’’ Coke Blak, the mega beverage maker explained, “is a perfect example of this. While the brand had its loyalists, overall it didn’t perform well and was eventually delisted.”
“I really hope that you see that these mega-brands that everybody respects, they screw up,” Dr. West told the Times. “I hope that makes you feel less apprehensive about learning something new. If you’re developing a new skill, trying to learn a new language or create something new, you’re going to fail. Don’t be ashamed of it. Let’s learn from these failures, instead of ignoring them.”
If you want to see and learn from some of the best worst business failures of all time, like “Bic for Her,” the “Nokia N-gage,” or “Harley-Davidson Perfume,” you won’t necessarily have to head all the way to Sweden — the exhibit is hitting the road. The Museum of Failure will be touring around Sweden this spring, and it will also visit Berlin, Germany, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Miami, FL, and Istanbul, Turkey over the next 10 months.