Two topics of frequent discussion in philanthropy - metrics and innovation - just came together in an interview I heard while listening to the radio. Kai Ryssdal of Marketplace spoke with A.G. Lafley, CEO of Proctor & Gamble and author of a book on innovation, The Game-Changer. You can read the transcript of the interview here or listen to it here. I perked up at this part of the interview:
Ryssdal: "You write in your book that about half of your product innovations fail."So there it is, a metric for innovation. At least half your attempts should fail. As usual, I have some questions:
Lafley: "There is a museum in up-state New York that is full of failed consumer products, and we have our fair share there. So, I think we know we're in a game where you fail a lot. Innovation is that kind of a game, and what we are trying to do is improve our success rate. And what we are also trying to do is fail earlier, fail faster and reallocate the resources from the failures . . . the humans, the human capital and the financial capital, so we can put the money against innovations that have a chance [at] success."
- With all the philanthropic attention on innovation do you think this metric should translate over to philanthropic strategies?
- Is this an acceptable rate of failure? Too high? Too low?
- Do foundations and philanthropists and activists and social entrepreneurs know how "fail earlier, fail faster and reallocate the resources from the failures?"