Filed under: Innovators
By Pete Mortensen
Fortune online has a reader-submitted Q&A with Netflix CEO Reed Hastings. It’s a very informative interview, but my favorite part comes in the way Hastings talks about the well-worn track of fast failure.
In your opinion, do you learn more from failures or successes? Give us an example. Juan Saldivar, Monterrey, Mexico
With failures, you learn one of 99 things to avoid. So they are not that useful. I think it is more useful to learn from others’ failures. An example: AOL failed to adapt to the broadband world and clung to its narrowband dial-up specialty.
Though I’m slightly confused by the AOL example, I agree with the overall principle here. Learning from failure means a lot more than going out and screwing up everything. It means really understanding what has and has not worked in the past for others and then figuring out how to do it better yourself.
The first Macintosh computer wasn’t a success because Apple failed with the Lisa. It was a success because Steve Jobs saw what was wrong with the overall approach of Xerox PARC in bringing a workstation to market and neatly side-stepped them all.
The cliche is mostly right: Silicon Valley is built on a mountain of failure. But it you can make sure it’s somebody else’s failures that get you there.
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