Celebrating Failure

“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm. ” — Sir Winston Churchill

Do you remember the Sony Betamax?  (I still have one.)  How about coffee-flavored Coca-Cola?

These are obvious failures most people would like to forget.  But according to an article in the December 2017 issue of Smithsonian magazine,  they are being celebrated in the Museum of Failure in Sweden (http://failuremuseum.com/), with pop-up tours at the Los Angeles Art & Design Museum (December 2, 2017 to February 4, 2018) and Art Basil Miami, FL (December 7-10, 2017).

Failure to most people means, well… you’ve failed.  Perhaps your idea wasn’t thought through (colorless Crystal Pepsi).  Perhaps it was a good idea, but there were better products on the market (LaserDisc).  Or maybe it was just ahead of its time (the Apple Newton, which ultimately led to the iPhone).  But if you think about it, failure is the steppingstone to success.  Dave McClure, cofounder of 500 Startups, an incubator for tech ideas, was quoted in the article as saying he thought of naming the company Fail Factory. “We’re here trying to ‘manufacture fail’ on a regular basis, and we think that’s how you learn.”  British entrepreneur Richard Branson, recently tweeted “Try again.  Fail again.  Fail better.” from Samuel Beckett’s Worstward Ho.

The Museum of Failure originally opened in Helsingborg, Sweden in June.  Ironically, high overhead expenses and  the lack of a permanent space caused the museum to close in September.  But it will reopen in April 2018 at a new (and hopefully permanent) location at Dunkers Kulturhus in Helsingborg.  Perhaps this is the best example of how to build on failure?


The Smithsonian article is “The Strange Beauty of the Epic Fail” by Franz Lidz, December 2017. page 16.  I haven’t found it online.  The photo is from the museum’s website.

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