kottke.org posts about failure

James Dyson on invention and failureJun 18 2012

British industrialist and billionaire James Dyson has a pretty healthy outlook on failure.

You once described the inventor's life as "one of failure." How so?

I made 5,127 prototypes of my vacuum before I got it right. There were 5,126 failures. But I learned from each one. That's how I came up with a solution. So I don't mind failure. I've always thought that schoolchildren should be marked by the number of failures they've had. The child who tries strange things and experiences lots of failures to get there is probably more creative.

Not all failures lead to solutions, though. How do you fail constructively?

We're taught to do things the right way. But if you want to discover something that other people haven't, you need to do things the wrong way. Initiate a failure by doing something that's very silly, unthinkable, naughty, dangerous. Watching why that fails can take you on a completely different path. It's exciting, actually. To me, solving problems is a bit like a drug. You're on it, and you can't get off. I spent seven years on our washing machine [which has two drums, instead of one].

See also: Dyson Airblade

Scott Berkun on how to learn from your mistakesJul 27 2005

Scott Berkun on how to learn from your mistakes. "We're taught in school, in our families, or at work to feel guilty about failure and to do whatever we can to avoid mistakes."

Remembering boo.com, five years after it diedMay 17 2005

Remembering boo.com, five years after it died.

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