We all know there can be no innovation without risk. Encouraging risk taking and accepting failure can help boost innovation. But that doesn’t mean you should have a blanket endorsement for all failure. In many cases, failure is bad. Sometimes people fail because they didn’t do their homework. Sometimes they fail because they lacked skills or hadn’t practiced enough.
These categories of failure should never be celebrated. Rather, leaders should accept that fumbles, false starts, and, yes, failures are part of the game. The uncertainty that accompanies innovation means that sometimes people will do everything right and still have a commercial failure. In those cases, shut the project down quickly and encourage people to move on. And don’t waste time looking for a scapegoat.