Fail Fast to Succeed

The Google Graveyard and Microsoft Morgue caught my eye today. They’re pinterest boards that highlight a handful of products or services in which Google and Microsoft invested, but eventually cancelled.

At fist glance, it may look like a poster from, but if you look closer you’ll find a real key to success in business. Failure lives side by side with success.


It’s really telling that both Google and Microsoft had the guts to invest in unproven ideas. This also required a great deal of trust in their employees to let them build these products. While some products are successful and profitable, others fail, as seen above.

Just imagine if a culture of invention and risk hadn’t been a part of Google. It’s likely they wouldn’t have lost any resources that went into the development of Google Wave which was scrapped shortly after its introduction. But they also might not have invented GMail. I shudder at the thought.

If Microsoft contented itself with just producing and enhancing Windows, we might never have seen Microsoft Word, or Excel. Despite flagging profits in the xbox division, they pushed ahead and came up with Kinect. That’s been a new source of vitality and revenue pushing the xbox market share even higher.

My own graveyard

I could create my own graveyard of product and service ideas, but I can also show a few strong products. I’m so glad that failure (or the fear of it) didn’t stifle my creativity.

As we celebrate the Fourth of July, it would serve us well to remember that our founding fathers took a similar risk. The stakes were much higher than any of the failed products above, but so were the potential payoffs, and the last 200+ years of history show that it has paid huge dividends.

So while you sip on a soda and eat a BBQ hamburger today, I dare you to make the decision to risk failure. Put it all on the line for something you believe in. Be more daring when you ask for the sale or the optin. Release the product that you don’t think is ready yet and see if the market is interested.

You might even go so far as to Trust someone more. Believe in your outsourcers, your vendors, yourself. And when you fail, take a picture to remember it and move on to the next idea. The faster you do, the sooner you’ll succeed.

P.S. Ed Dale, even though you’re shivering in cold weather on your little island in the other hemisphere, we don’t mind if you have a BBQ and light a few fireworks to celebrate with us.

P.P.S. This is one of my favorite scenes in Meet the Robinson’s. I think it applies.

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