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Failure is an important part of success

brianKIt was very refreshing to hear Conny Kalcher, VP Marketing and Consumer Experiences of LEGO, talk at a recent Big Questions Live show about their approach to innovation and driving customer satisfaction. She spoke candidly about failures at LEGO, how they learnt from those, quickly adapted and put in place alternative plans.

As LEGO moved into digital they developed initiatives such as LEGO Universe and Gallidor which did not perform as hoped. They revised the former and ditched the latter while pushing on with a search for new offerings. Another idea, LEGO Mindstorms, was hacked but suing your own customers is not the smartest move so it was made open source. Customer input was embraced them and their input shaped a strong product.

What was striking was that Kalcher was not embarrassed by the failings but spoke about them openly. She was explicit that failure is not completely avoidable and that organisations should accept it as part of the search for success.

Many studies have shown that such an approach is one of the key factors to being innovative. In a highly risk averse culture staff are less likely to want to be associated with a failed project as it may affect their career prospects. This can result in less innovation and declining performance.

The risk of failure can be minimised through good research but brands have to be prepared to fail, to learn from their mistakes and quickly direct resources towards finding alternative growth strategies.

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