Sweden’s Museum of Failure Pop-Up Reveals The Risky Business of Innovation

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A showcase of blunders.

Juicero

Examples of innovation failure are everywhere. On April 18 of this year, the world was introduced to the Juicero. For US$400, the device would allow users to have cold-pressed juice in their very own home, thanks to pre-packaged bags of liquid that would be cleverly squeezed by the machine.

The problem was this – the Juicero didn’t really do anything other than push the liquid out of the bag. While it claimed to use four tonnes of force to “extract” the juice from the Juicero bag, product testers found that simply squeezing the bag by hand yielded the same result as having the machine squeeze it for you. Also, you could just pop a straw in the bag and be done with it.

But what can we mere mortals learn from this epic Silicon Valley fail? (Google was a Juicero investor, FYI). Organisational psychologist Samuel West has created Sweden’s Museum of Failure pop-up to uncover exactly this.

The temporary museum is set to open on June 7 in the southwestern city of Helsingborg, and showcases some of the world’s worst innovation fails to help future industry disruptors get a sense of what to do (and what not to do) when it comes to expanding their business model.

“The majority of all innovation projects fail and the museum showcases these failures to provide visitors a fascinating learning experience,” reads the museum’s website.

The major lesson you’ll probably learn, à la Donald Trump’s failed Trump Steaks spinoff venture is don’t stray too far from what you know or what your brand represents. The museum’s display of Colgate’s foray in frozen lasagne and Harley Davidson’s leather-scented perfume are similar examples. There’s also a lesson in being a little too rigid in your thinking: the museum features Blockbuster’s epic fail of firing of a CEO who was interested in a pivot towards subscription-based DVD rental and movie streaming. The company went bankrupt in 2013 and as we Netflix devotees know all too well, that was a pretty disastrous move.

“Learning is the only process that turns failure into success,” Samuel explained of the museum’s mantra. “So, if you don’t learn from your f*ck ups, then you’ve really f*cked up.”

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