Failing forwards


I heard an interview with Professor Colin Pillinger last week. He was the lead scientist on the mission to explore data from the planet Mars via information from Beagle 2. The mission was popularly perceived as a failure, as the satellite was unable to send back the all-important data for the team to investigate. However, Pillinger argued that this kind of ‘failure’ is actually the stuff on which scientists thrive: each apparent ‘failure’ can be perceived as just another step on the journey towards a breakthrough. In other words, ‘failing forward’. The scientist learns as much or even more from what didn’t work as from what did. Interestingly, a potential rapid diagnostic tool for TB is now being developed using the technology employed for the mission.

Creativity and innovation are the outcomes of ‘failing forward’. It can take many attempts and many belly-flops before something new finally emerges. Having the vision, strength of mind to take risks and dogged persistence are hallmarks of the creative person. Just do it, as the slogan goes.


2 thoughts on “Failing forwards

  1. Hi,
    I really like this post. Most people are so afraid of ‘failing’ or making a mistake that they forget that this is also about learning. And, it really inhibits their creativity. Come visit me when you get a chance. I’m a creativity coach, professor, yoga teacher and write a blog, ‘The Practice of Creativity’:
    Michele Tracy Berger

    • idcoach

      Thanks Michele – I’ve just taken a quick peek at your blog. How nice it is to find kindred spirits out there. I’ll be back to read more.

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