Monday, 30 May 2011

2011 Edqe Question: Perhaps we can learn from failures in business, science or life.

Perhaps we can learn from failures in business, science or life. Kevin Kelly explains how:

Editor-At-Large, Wired; Author, What Technology Wants
The Virtues of Negative Results
We can learn nearly as much from an experiment that does not work as from one that does. Failure is not something to be avoided but rather something to be cultivated. That's a lesson from science that benefits not only laboratory research, but design, sport, engineering, art, entrepreneurship, and even daily life itself. 

All creative avenues yield the maximum when failures are embraced. A great graphic designer will generate lots of ideas knowing that most will be aborted. A great dancer realizes most new moves will not succeed. Ditto for any architect, electrical engineer, sculptor, marathoner, startup maven, or microbiologist. 

What is science, after all, but a way to learn from things that don't work rather than just those that do? What this tool suggests is that you should aim for success while being prepared to learn from a series of failures. More so, you should carefully but deliberately press your successful investigations or accomplishments to the point that they break, flop, stall, crash, or fail.

Science itself is learning how to better exploit negative results. 


increasingly published negative results (which include experiments that succeed in showing no effects) are becoming another essential tool in the scientific method.


one way to troubleshoot a complicated device that is broken is to deliberately force negative results (temporary breaks) in its multiple functions in order to locate the actual disfunction.


the habit of embracing negative results is one of the most essential tricks to gaining success.

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