It’s fine to fail, suggests museum of failures

Coping with failure when everyone is worshipping success is not easy. But a new museum of failure does just that by celebrating creativity which must have the courage to fail

Photo courtesy: Twitter
Photo courtesy: Twitter

NH Web Desk

No, it is not the world’s first museum of failure. That distinction possibly belongs to Michigan’s museum of failed products in the US. But the newest museum of failure which opened in Sweden on Wednesday is not designed to mock at failures but to celebrate creativity.

“I am sick of everyone worshipping success,” says curator and psychologist Dr Samuel West in an interview, “which is repetitive”, echoing what Churchill had said about success not being final and failure not being fatal. Innovation, Dr West points out, cannot take place if people are afraid of failing. Winners are not afraid of losing but losers are.

So, the museum of top of the flops. Most of the exhibits are no longer available to the public but each one of them tells a story. When someone thought of making pens for women, he had market segmentation in mind. He executed it by manufacturing pens in pink and in floral designs. But of course the product bombed because women did not like the idea of not considered equal to the task of using pens for men!

The museum exhibits a perfume that the iconic manufacturer of motorcycles Harley Davidson manufactured. The perfume recreated the smell of the motorcycle and the idea evidently was that people who worshipped the hugely popular motorcycle brand would also like to carry the smell with them.

Google Glass sank without a trace following privacy issues and complaints that it was not ‘cool’ to wear sun shades that took photographs as well. Nokia tried to manufacture a phone with gaming facilities but the product disappeared in no time.

Photo courtesy: Twitter
Photo courtesy: Twitter
Colgate’s beef lasagna had failed miserably in the market

Colgate, the manufacturers of toothpaste, tried to enter the frozen food market but its beef lasagna found few takers. Similarly, Coca Cola failed to market its branded coffee flavoured coke.

The 43-year-old clinical psychologist is quoted as saying, “We know that 80 to 90 % of innovation projects, they fail and you never read about them, you don't see them, people don't talk about them. And if there's anything we can do from these failures, is learn from them.”

Photo courtesy: Museum of Failure
Photo courtesy: Museum of Failure
A screen grab of the website of Museum of Failure

Even one of the world's best-known businessman, President Donald Trump, makes an appearance in the museum in “I'm Back And You're Fired" board game from 2004, marketed by Trump’s business empire, which is said to look like Monopoly. “It's a boring version of Monopoly. It's simplified so stupid that people can play it, but it's also horribly boring,” says West, explaining why the product failed.

If we go by experts’ opinion, then one must accept that innovation is a difficult process and failure is often inevitable. Learning from failures is important for any successful innovation. “It's liberating for us, when we try out a new skill or learn something, it's OK to fail,” West says.

The Museum of Failure opened on June 7 and will stay in its gallery space until at least early September. The Museum’s website invites suggestions from the visitors—failed gourmet tasting menu, a concert of failed music—anything related to failures, “the crazier the better.” Failures are not so bad after all! They are truly the pillars of success.

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