Failure Is Indeed an Option if We’re Trying New Things
If we're trying new things, there are bound to be “failures.”
If our leaders want guaranteed success, we won't be trying many new things. The best way to guarantee that we won't fail is to not try.
A Domino's Pizza commercial seems to embrace this notion that we're going to fail sometimes and we have to be comfortable with that to be an innovative organization.
From the commercial:
“We know not everything is going to work… In order to get better, in order to move ahead, you're going to make mistakes. If we gave up after every mistake, we wouldn't come up with something new… We cannot be afraid to fail. It might sound crazy, but that's who we are.”
On one level, that's good PDSA, Kaizen, and Innovation thinking. “Failures” should be considered learning opportunities.
We have to take risks. But, they shouldn't be wild risks. We need to:
We shouldn't just randomly do stuff. We have to identify a problem or a market need. We need to test our solution or creation. Then, if we're fairly certain (but not necessarily 100% certain) that our idea will work fine to address that problem or need, then let's go forward (Do), then Study and Adjust.
I'm sure that a company like Domino's must have some form of an iterative product development process. I'm sure it starts with a test kitchen along with consumer feedback. Did customers SAY they wanted fried boneless chunks of chicken with cheese and sauce? What market need is not being met by chicken wings?
I'm also guessing that Domino's has the ability to do small tests of change. They must have test markets, where they see 1) can their locations consistently produce this product and 2) how do customers respond?
They should have a pretty good sense, based on the early iterations if they have a product that's going to succeed or fail. If you're going to fail, fail EARLY. That's a great lesson from the Lean Startup approach. You can also fail locally and somewhat privately. By the time Domino's does a national ad campaign, I'd like to think they would be pretty confident of success.
So, I don't understand how saying “we have to fail” really helps sell chicken or pizza. It seems like the commercial is too clever by half, perhaps.
Putting my foodie hat on for a second, that innovative chicken product just looks gross (and the reviews aren't positive). It looks like they putting pizza toppings, including chicken and cheese, on top of brown paper instead of pizza dough. The paper might taste the same as their dough.
I'm not willing to spend my own money to see if this tastes and nasty as it looks. I'm not really willing to hold up Domino's as a bastion of innovation and Kaizen. I guess they get points for trying.
This is a company that had an ad campaign that said, basically, “we know our pizza is terrible, but it's going to be better now.” The last time I tried their pizza (it was served at some tech event and I was starving), I thought it was nasty pizza with a crust that tasted like chemicals. They aren't exactly experimenting on a track record of culinary success (but they have been a successful business, which I guess is what matters).
Have you been able to apply Domino's words about innovation to your organization? If so, how? Have you been able to reduce the fear of failure as a way to foster Kaizen and innovation?