Failure is not an option is the tag line of the 1995 film Apollo 13. It is spoken in the film by Ed Harris, who was playing Gene Kranz, and said:
“We’ve never lost an American in space; we’re sure as hell not going to lose one on my watch. Failure is not an option”
How many times in your private life or in your daily business you said “what if I fail?”. Failure is frightening and undermines our self-esteem.
The problem is that, because of this attitude (or culture), it becomes very hard to try to do something new, sometimes unconventional, sometimes just a bit more innovative than before. Therefore, we all tend to stay quietly in our comfort zone and avoid risks.
Innovative projects are by nature associated with risks, and usually more innovative the project, higher the risk.
“There’s a silly notion that failure’s not an option at NASA. Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.” Elon Musk
This Elon Musk quote is an incredibly crucial concept for people to understand. If you want to thrive you have to put yourself out there, you have to get uncomfortable.
Rather, read fail as:
However, we should try to do our best not to fail!
Whether you are developing new products or setting up a new business, studies show that following a structured approach increase significantly the success rate.
A structured approach normally includes Risk Management sessions under different forms, like the use of a risk register to periodically keep track of risks and proper mitigations, or, from an pure engineering perspective, the use of Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FMEA) methodology to prevent potential failure modes.
Additionally, if your goal is to introduce new technologies, the Technology Readiness level (TRL) and Manufacturing Readiness Level (MRL) are definitely approaches you might consider.
If your goal is to reduce the failure rate of your projects but you are not familiar with these approaches and tools, don’t hesitate to contact us for further details.