What about when experiments fail?
The most innovative companies have cultures that celebrate failures, because they learn from them. Google, Uber, and all these amazing companies are trying hundreds if not thousands of experiments per year. At the same time, they’re getting better at knowing when to kill projects early—or what’s been called pre-mortems on post-mortems. In this scenario, when a team comes up with a potentially great idea, it then takes shots at it—how might this fail? In investigating that mindset you might find why the idea isn’t viable long term, and you kill the project before investing considerable time, money, and reputation on it. Creating a culture that allows for crazy ideas to bubble up to the top, and where failure is okay and rapid failure is even better, is critically important to innovation.
How can companies balance the need to take risks with the danger of making huge, costly mistakes?
It goes back to rapid experimentation. The big mistakes happen when an executive has a belief or vision, spends years of work and tens of millions of dollars, and then brings to the marketplace a final product no one wants. LinkedIn Founder Reid Hoffman was quoted as saying, “If you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.” It’s about going out with a minimally viable product and learning what people think. It’s about getting feedback and iterating and killing 90% of your darlings, and pouring fuel on the ones that show some potential.
What industries are the most ripe for innovation in the coming years?
Wow, so many. Healthcare, banking, education, retail, real estate—any place where there’s a middle man we’ll see significant disruption. Virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI) will get rid of the middle man. You will go directly to a real estate site, and the AI agent will let you visit a house through a VR experience and make a bid on it. Or you’ll go into VR store where you’ll describe what you want and then be presented with a fashion show. Then you’ll be measured within millimeters of accuracy of your physical body dimensions, and your clothes will be manufactured and custom-fitted for you that afternoon. And if you want to do it with your friends, you’ll be able to do it socially by having them join you on the adventure.
Any parting words of advice for the Workday Community?
Yes. The best way to predict the future is to create it yourself.