Friday, May 25, 2007
Sir James Dyson on Failure
Very interesting to read the current issue of Fast Company, given my recent post regarding managerial attitudes toward failure. Writer Chuck Salter interviews Sir James Dyson, the inventor of the best-selling vacuum cleaner in the U.S. - the famous Dyson bagless vacuum. Dyson points out that he made more than 5,000 prototypes before he discovered the model that became a commercial success. He notes, "There were 5, 126 failures, but I learned from each one. So I don't mind failure. I've always thought htat schoolchildren should be marked by the number of failures they've had. The child who tries strange things and experiences lots of failures to get there is probably more creative. " Of course, that sentence struck me because I had just written about Build-A-Bear CEO Maxine Clark's admiration for her schoolteacher who did precisely what Dyson suggests! Dyson goes on to say: "We're taught to do things the right way. But if you want to discover something that other people haven't, you need to do things the wrong way. Initiate a failure by doing something that's very silly, unthinkable, naughty, dangerous. Watching why that fails can take you on a completely different path."