Want your business to be innovative? Be ready to fail

Elizabeth Barry 2 June 2017

world business forum
Keynote speaker Mohanbir Sawhney delivers a speech at the World of Business Ideas (WOBI) in Sydney, Wednesday, May 31, 2017. (AAP Image for WOBI/Paul Miller)

International business heavyweights Randi Zuckerburg and Mohanbir Sawhney discussed the changing nature of innovation at this week's World Business Forum.

Businesses need to be ready to fail in order to innovate, according to international thought leaders speaking at this week's World Business Forum in Sydney. Mohanbir Sawhney, a professor at the Kellogg School of Management, spoke about how businesses need to be ready to take more risks because of the shifting nature of innovation.

"You don’t have to worry about the risk of failure you have to worry about the cost of failure," said Sawhney.

He added, though, that open source software has enabled businesses to "fail cheaply" and try a number of ideas rather than just the one.

"Innovation isn’t about making big bets it’s about making small bets...You can fail profitably by failing early, failing cheaply and failing forwards."

Randi Zuckerburg, former director of marketing at Facebook and CEO of Zuckerburg Media, also spoke about how business leaders need to be ready to fail if they want to innovate.

“You have to be okay with failure. They would never tell any of us in business school that the right thing to do is to walk into a board meeting and say “I’m going to try 10 things and 9 of them are going to be complete failures." But in a world of digital, that's what you have to be comfortable with."

For businesses looking to engage in innovation and remain competition, Sawhney encouraged them to change the way they think about the process of innovating.

“Where innovation used to be within the four walls of the company, now innovation has become a collaborative construct. Your customers, your suppliers, your partners, all need to be connected in an ecosystem," he said.

"The old innovation paradigm is slow, it’s expensive and it’s rigid and therefore we need to reinvent innovation."

Picture: Shutterstock

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