@JonMott pointed me to an interesting video on how the Honda design team progressed from catastrophic disasters with their racecars to monumental current success. The moral of the story? That innovation can arise from failure, if the community is prepared to learn from their failures. This is something that emerges often as characteristics of innovative groups (see Sawyer, 2008 and IDEO’s “Fail early, fail often” credo).
I’d really love to conduct a study sometime in this area. What kinds of questions could be asked? What kinds of methods? I think it’d be interesting to at least begin by looking at:
1. What are the characteristics of “positive” failures and “negative” failures?
2. What are the strategies, characteristics, and actions of groups that profit from failures?
3. Can strategies be put in place to help a community currently experiencing failure to benefit from it? How can these strategies and changes be implemented most effectively?
4. What kinds of knowledge and skills are gained in working back from a failed project?
5. Are key individuals essential to profiting from failure?
6. What significant innovations have arisen as direct results of learning from failure?
7. How can we develop educational environments that help and support students to experiment and learn from failure?
8. What is the “rebound” process from recovering from failure?
And so on. Interested in your thoughts!