Failure, Innovation and Social Media

I’ve been thinking about innovation a lot lately. With the 3D printing revolution under way and whole industries claiming they’re innovating disruptively, everyone seems to think the name of the innovation game is go big or go home. Ironically, what’s been coming to my mind most is a story from my childhood.

When I was just a small boy of maybe 5 or 6 years old, I was wandering through the house one day when a thought suddenly struck me. What if you could go backwards in time? Needless to say, the thought intrigued me. I immediately thought of all the tricks I could play on my sister before walking back through time so that I didn’t have to suffer the consequences due to my forward walking sister having told on me.

So what did I do with this fantastic idea? Did I try to patent it? Did I raise venture capital? Did I blog about it to turn the market conditions more favourable? What I did was so much simpler. I walked backwards, at which point I realized that you didn’t in fact walk back through time. Content with the result of my experiment, I continued on my way.

The lesson I pulled from this was that I wasn’t afraid to fail. I didn’t think of the consequences of failing in this venture, I just tried to do it. And since the idea was so simple in it’s basic form, it was quick to test. You could even tweet it.

“Can you walk backwards through time? Tested… No!”

The moral of this tweet can even be summed up as a tweet.

“Fear of failure leads to more ideas being wasted than tested.”

The power of social media and 3D printing as it applies to innovation is enabling everyone to test ideas faster. To learn faster. To find out faster if that great big idea is just trying to walk backwards in time? Or if it’s the next truly big idea?

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