Could Be Either, but it Helps if it's "Frinky"
Failure can be an engine of innovation if we learn to see it as a blessing rather than a curse, says Baba Shiv, professor of marketing at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Shiv, one of the pioneers of decision neuroscience-the study of what happens in our brains as we make decisions-suggests we can learn productive attitudes toward failure.
In a Stanford GBS News story,
he says most individuals, managers and corporations, fear failure. They
find it painful and shameful, and that makes them averse to risk. Shiv
says people with a more enterprising mindset don't fear failures so
much as they fear watching while someone else runs away with the best
idea. For these more venturesome types, a failure can hold insight to a
experience has conditioned us to be fearful, how do we regain the
adventurous spirit we probably had as children? One possibility is rapid prototyping.
Wild ideas produced in brain storming are rapidly transformed into
models or solutions that may or may not work. So you get rid of the ones
that don't, try again, and in the process your brain gets the idea that failure is OK, and may even be instructive and pleasant.
companies have devised ingenious ways to inspire and reward innovation.
Inspiration can work, unless the novel idea is ridiculed or vetoed by a
fearful, risk averse manger. Other companies have successfully used
desperation: cut the resources and demand better results. Jugaad is a Hindi slang word that means improvisational
innovation driven by scarcity. Shiv says it's a common management
concept in India, where people are experienced in coping with scarcity.
According to a Bloomberg Businessweek story by Reena Jana,
it's likely to be increasingly influential in the U.S., as consultants
mingle the idea with Six Sigma, total quality, lean and Kaizen, the
Japanese term for continuous improvement. The story notes that already
companies such as Best Buy, Cisco Systems and Oracle are using jugaad (pronounced
joo-gaardh) to create products and services that are cheaper for
producers and buyers. Business scholars warn, however, that jugaad has
to be practiced with attention to ethics and regulation, so it
In his course "The Frinky Science of the Human Mind," Shiv uses rapid prototyping and other techniques to
apply principles of human brain functioning to such tasks as putting
customers at ease, encouraging them to choose one product over another,
and being happy with their decisions. For instance, in one surprising
bit of research, Shiv and colleagues found that people who bought an
energy drink at a discount price performed worse on puzzle solving than
people who had paid full price for the same drink. The idea that the
drink wasn't quite as effective actually made them dumber. And Frinky? It's not in the dictionary. It's a word Shiv's son made up to combine counterintuitive and funky.