If there’s anything I’ve ever learned in life, it’s that you’re going to make lots of mistakes. I make a lot of mistakes – just ask my wife. And while I’d like to think that the more experience I’ve accumulated has made me wiser – whether it’s as a product person, an entrepreneur, or heck, even a dad and husband – I still continue to make mistakes in almost every category to this day.
And I’m OK with that.
It’s not whether or not a person’s made mistakes that matters – it’s whether they’ve learned anything from those mistakes. The best entrepreneurs and product people will be the first to tell you that they’ve taken big risks… and not all of them have paid off. But the fact that they weren’t afraid to take those risks in the first place is a key trait that likely helps them stand out among their peers. This is probably why Steve Jobs once said, “Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.” In fact, even Jobs has taken some very big risks and made some big mistakes throughout his career.
When scientists conduct experiments, failure isn’t necessarily failure. It’s disproving a hypothesis. And scientists see a lot of value in failure, as there’s so much to learn from it.
So when you’re thinking about the experiments you’re trying to make as a product person – don’t be afraid to be bold. Don’t be afraid to do something that pushes the envelope. It’s okay to experiment and fail, but be sure that you’re learning along the way. It’s that knowledge that will help you lead to real innovation.