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Brilliant Mistakes: Finding Success on the Far Side of Failure Paperback – November 8, 2011
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Clayton Christensen, Kim B. Clark Professor of Business Administration, Harvard University, author of The Innovator’s Dilemma, The Innovator’s Prescription, and The Innovator’s Solution
All of us, from educators to CEOs, will profit from taking to heart Schoemaker’s messagesthis book is both brilliant and fun to read.”
John Seely Brown, Co-Chair, Deloitte Center for the Edge, Visiting Scholar & Advisor to the Provost, University of Southern California; Coauthor, The Power of Pull and A New Culture of Learning
In Brilliant Mistakes, Schoemaker brilliantly pulls off a tricky three-way balance: a solid grounding in behavioral and managerial research, engaging and entertaining examples from many endeavors (business, sports, physics, medicine, music, art, literature), and clear and concrete recommendations for how to make the right kind of mistakes and how to extract the gold that’s in them.”
Joshua Klayman, Founding Partner, Humanly Possible, Inc.; Professor Emeritus of Behavioral Science, University of Chicago Booth School of Business
Elegantly combining stories, personal insights, and practical models, Schoemaker offers both notable inspiration and fine guidance to those in pursuit of true innovation. Not reading this book will be a mistakeand not a brilliant one!”
Carsten Bjerg, CEO, Grundfos, Denmark
Brilliant Mistakes tackles the hardest stage of the innovation process, namely challenging the current business model and seeing opportunities before others do (box 3 in my terminology).”
Vijay Govindarajan, Professor at Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, Coauthor of Ten Rules for Strategic Innovators and The Other Side of Innovation
This is a must-read for anyone seeking both perfection and innovation; short-term performance and long-term learning; the pride of excellence and the humility to make deliberate mistakes; and the tolerance for many dumb mistakes to produce a few brilliant ones.”
Steve Bonner, President and CEO, Cancer Treatment Centers of America
Essential. With his customary wit and analytic sharpness, Paul Schoemaker explains how to identify and encourage the sort of high-risk, high-return mistakes’ that can open up new markets, create strategic opportunities, and invigorate organizations.”
Michael Mandel, Chief Economic Strategist, Progressive Policy Institute, and Former Chief Economist, Business Week
Mining mistakes often yields great value immediately, but more importantly, it will change your company’s culture to embrace innovation and risk taking over the long run.”
F. Mark Gumz, Retired President and C.E.O. Olympus Corporation of the Americas
Brilliant Mistakes offers a creative and practical road map for designing for and learning from mistakes.”
Yoram (Jerry) Wind, Lauder Professor, Director of SEI Center for Advanced Studies in Management, Academic Director of The Wharton Fellows Program, The Wharton School; Coauthor of The Power of Impossible Thinking
In intriguing styleand with examples from many fieldsPaul Schoemaker shows not only how to profit from mistakes but also what kinds of mistakes can lead to better learning and innovation. A great read. Bravo!”
Robin M. Hogarth, ICREA Research Professor at Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, author of Educating Intuition, Judgement and Choice, and Dance with Chance
Schoemaker lays the foundation for corporations to fundamentally alter their DNA by teaching us how to reframe our thinking about mistakes by making them a part of our accepted rules of engagement’. A DIY handbook for every leader seeking to make a difference.”
Govi Rao, CEO, Noveda
An utterly brilliant book Kudos to Schoemaker for highlighting such an important aspect of creating value from unexpected outcomes! It is a must-read for every researcher and innovation leader in every organization.”
Larry Huston, CEO, 4iNNO, and Former Innovation Officer, Procter & Gamble
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
It should really be titled "Deliberate Mistakes" because that is what the author is really describing. At first I couldn't figure why he was talking about "mistakes" when it really sounded like he was describing experimentation, taking chances and risks. But he spends some time explaining that that is not really what he is recommending. It is more on the order of doing things you expect to fail and not pay off.
I find it hard to criticize much about it except for a couple of minor mistakes. One was Schoemaker describing Einstein as a "lowly patent clerk" who was somewhat ignorant about physics. Anyone who knows Einstein's biography knows this portrayal of him is a myth. At another point he makes some statement about O.J. Simpson's glove. However these are just a few sentences out of this otherwise very fine book.
I have no problem highly recommending this book. It has an extensive preview with Amazon's "Look Inside" feature and I suggest you make use of that opportunity and then add the book to your personal Library.
Schoemaker notes that one CEO obtained some empty L'eggs pantyhose plastic eggs, sprayed them with gold paint, and used them when awarding the "best mistake of the month." That is, the mistake from which the most valuable information was obtained. As Thomas Edison never missed an opportunity to point out, understanding what doesn't work is critically important to determining what does.
Several passages caught my eye. For example, "Four Factors Impacting a Decision's Outcome," each of which has the potentiality to "blind us about the quality of a decision, to lead us away from the path of truly understanding another person's judgment toward quick but potentially false and unfair conclusions." (Pages 14-22) Another, "Conditions That Favor Deliberate Mistakes," offers invaluable advice when mistakes should be encouraged because long-term learning is more important than short-term results. "Consider the strategy of deliberate mistakes as one of many tools that managers can employ when operating on the right side of the knowledge spectrum." (Pages 88-92).Read more ›
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said it last week : 'We don't adequately prepare our young people for failure'
You don’t want to stay a fish
Failure is an issue. The policy report on entrepreneurship 2014 by the Irish government shows we have an issue with failure and risk. Talking to our clients in the innovation space, the same issue arises. In innovation and particularly iterative innovation, failure is a given and in theory it should be accepted by the organisation. In reality it is not. Failure is not an option. But it should. In fact failure is pre-requisite for survival. Our very existence as humans relies on the error mechanism of random mutation, if not we would still be fish, lizards or monkeys.
Eco system of mistakes
Unfortunately our schools and organisations are designed for efficiency and order. These are fine principles but rarely encourage mistakes, either brilliant or foolish. It needs to get messy. Or to quote from Managing serendipity, you need to put the baby in the boxing ring. Diverse thinking and tolerance for mistakes are both critical to innovation since they allow for variation beyond what is normally seen. At times, you need to design ecosystems of mistakes.
Mistakes are relative
But what is a mistake? Perception is everything. Starting with the definition of a mistake Merriam-Webster defines a mistake as “a wrong action or statement proceeding from faulty judgment, inadequate knowledge, or inattention.” This crisp definition relies on a simple outcomes-based criterion of truth .Read more ›
Mistakes can speed learning and lead to greater success later on. In some cases, what was initially perceived as a failure or wrong decision later turns out to be a smart move. Often we simply don't have all the data and we are quick to rush to judgement. Making brilliant mistakes isn't just about a flailing sort of failure, it's about learning from experience and making smarter choices each time. An unexamined mistake is a wasted effort. Each failure therefore serves as a rung on a ladder leading toward eventual brilliant success. Mistake making works best when the goal is long-term learning not short-term gain. For companies it may involve switching from a performance-based culture to a learning-based one. The idea is to create a culture of curiosity, a lab of sorts, where the emphasis is on the method rather then the result. One of the author's key examples of brilliant mistake making took place in an actual lab. When Alexander Fleming allowed contaminated Petri dishes to pile up, a fungus grew and that eventually led to the discovery of penicillin.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Nice to read, but really nothing special. Main idea is that you need to make mistakes in order to learn and improve. If this sounds interesting for you, you may like the book. Read morePublished 20 months ago by fun guy
I teach a University management class on "Failing Forward" where we look at individual, group, and organizational failure. Read morePublished on July 17, 2013 by Dr. Michael Shaner
I thought that this book was great food for thought. Its a worthwhile piece to help anyone who might struggle to decide which risks are worth taking, probably all of us... Read more
I considered it because because I wanted to be motivated when making unintentional mistakes but this book taught me how to make mistakes on purpose that are educative.Published on November 26, 2012 by Wafic
Interesting concept with clear and relevant examples applicable to everyday life. I would recommend that you add it to your collection.Published on November 23, 2012 by Ivan Gorgeon
The book attempts to redefine the definition of "mistakes", a noble, yet misguided attempt to change the english language. Read morePublished on April 18, 2012 by Lisa Hokans
All mistakes are not created equal; it is possible to design for brilliant mistakes - those that accelerate learning and lead to breakthrough innovation - and to avoid tragic ones,... Read morePublished on January 19, 2012 by John Gibbs