So, at last… A Museum of Failures. When we obsess about our failures we become captured by them but when we acknowledge, consider and accept our failures they can become springboards for new and functional growth and success.
This applies to our lives and to all our relationships! Ask St. Peter…
At This Museum, Failures Are Welcome
APRIL 21, 2017
A museum can be a showcase for just about anything, it seems. The Museum of Ice Cream will take you through a fantasy world of sprinkles and gooey chocolate topping. Visitors to the Museum of Sex in New York City meander through the artifacts of erotic life and history.
Do you want to unburden yourself of the pain of a broken heart? You can, the Museum of Broken Relationships suggests, by visiting its curated collections in Los Angeles or Zagreb, Croatia, of mementos donated anonymously by people who share similar feelings of love gone bad.
Now, if anyone is interested in why some gadgets have ended up on the garbage heap of product history, Dr. Samuel West, an organizational psychologist, says he hopes to show them why at the Museum of Failure.
The museum will open in Helsingborg, Sweden, on June 7 with a curated collection of over 60 products that, the museum website says, can provide insight into the “risky business of innovation.” A collection of nine objects from the museum is on tour, stopping in Miami, Berlin and Amsterdam.
Its curators will guide visitors through displays “related to failure” at no cost. “How about a failed gourmet tasting menu at a fancy restaurant? Or a tasting of failed brews from regional microbreweries?” the website says. “We welcome any further suggestions. The crazier the better.”
Some of the products that Dr. West, its chief curator, calls studies in failure include Harley-Davidson fragrance; Bic pens made especially for women (“Yes, that’s right: lady-pens,” said a Forbes review); and Coca-Cola Blak, a coffee-inspired drink.
“The purpose of the museum is to show that innovation requires failure,” Dr. West said as he introduced some of the exhibits in a video posted this month on the YouTube channel of Fredrik Skavlan, a Scandinavian talk show host. “If you are afraid of failure, then we can’t innovate.” He said he started the museum “to encourage organizations to be better at learning from failures — not just ignoring them and pretending they never happened.”
Dr. West held up a Bic for Her pen, still in its package. “Of course women can’t use pens for men; big failure,” he said sarcastically.
The Bic for Her line was discontinued last year.
Harley-Davidson perfume? “Total flop,” he said, showing the box.
Google Glass? The product collided with privacy issues, he contended. “The cafes in the San Francisco area said they didn’t want people walking in and filming their customers,“ he said in an interview on Friday.
Dr. West characterized the Segway as a “catastrophic” failure that fell short of expectations to revolutionize transportation. “Now it’s a silly device for kids or for company team-building activities,” he said.
Dr. West said the idea for the museum dawned on him when he visited the Museum of Broken Relationships. “I couldn’t believe they had a Museum of Broken Relationships,” he said. “Then I decided I had to get busy with my Museum of Failure.”
Google Glass faced privacy issues.
Vinnova, a Swedish innovation agency, provided funds to start the project, Dr. West said. In addition to starting the museum, Dr. West, 43, is an innovation researcher at Lund University. He has a doctorate in organizational psychology and advises companies on how to become more innovative and successful by embracing failure.
“All the literature is obsessively focused on success, but 80 to 90 percent of innovations actually fail,” he said. “Why don’t these failures get the attention they actually deserve?”
Dr. West said he did not have cooperation from companies for some of the museum’s featured products, though he did contact them. He said his criteria for a failure was when a product did not lead to the expected outcome.
The Segway fell short of expectations to revolutionize transportation, Dr. West said. CreditSofie Lindberg
The makers of the Bic for Her pen, which was discontinued at the end of 2016, said in a statement: “When we launched it, we received positive feedback from consumers. We recognize it has elicited strong reactions since then. We value all the comments we receive, including critical ones, and we regret any offense that may have been caused.”
In a statement on Monday, Coca-Cola said the company “constantly tries to innovate and invest in its brands to meet consumers’ changing preferences,’’ and that Coke Blak “is a perfect example of this. While the brand had its loyalists, overall it didn’t perform well and was eventually delisted.”
Segway, Google Glass, Harley-Davidson did not reply to requests for comment.
“I really hope that you see that these mega-brands that everybody respects, they screw up,” Dr. West said. “I hope that makes you feel less apprehensive about learning something new. If you’re developing a new skill, trying to learn a new language or create something new, you’re going to fail. Don’t be ashamed of it. Let’s learn from these failures, instead of ignoring them.”