If at first you dont succeed


John Geoghegan’s own piece on “Embracing Failure” in Huffington Post was chock full of a Harper’s Index of failure stats highlighting how much failure there is to embrace in life…

  • 45 – Percent of all new businesses will go under within their first 5 years
  • < 1 – Percent of U.S. patents are commercially viable
  • 75 – Failure rate for new grocery products in the supermarket is 70 percent of all management "change initiatives" fail
  • 70 – Percent of intergenerational wealth transfers are squandered by their heirs
  • 70 – Percent of all World Bank loans are never repaid
  • 80 – Percent of all movies, books and video games released in the United States don’t make a profit
  • 99 – Percent of all species that ever lived are now extinct–which means even evolution has a high failure rate.

John also shared his own classification of failure’s lessons

  • Big Lessons – “the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, and the 1940 collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. One resulted in making the world’s passenger ships far safer, while the other did the same for suspension bridges. “
  • Slow Lessons – “Western historians dismiss the Japanese [squadron of underwater aircraft] largely because it was unsuccessful. Yet Japan’s I-400 class of submarines foreshadowed the sub-based, nuclear-missile deterrent strategy the U.S. relies on today.”
  • No Lessons – “Did the space shuttle Challenger explosion prevent Columbia’s loss? Did the near melt down at Three Mile Island stop Chernobyl?”