"Success build character, failure reveals it."
I'm getting very interested in failure at the minute, in that I seem to be surrounded by it more and more and faster and faster. I even had another idea (that I'll never do) to create a failure conference where all the speakers have to have had made some big failures, preferably in the digital and social world where the stage for failure seems to be far smaller than that for success. We need to see and talk about that failure stuff, sometimes more so that the success stuff.
The problem being in my mind is that the more we ignore failure and rave about success, the more the people who pay us to do what we do will believe that there is no such thing as failure and everything is bound to succeed. This is a very dangerous place to be, and as the one who went through the dot com implosition where we lost our jobs, stated that firing staff is the worse thing we've ever had to do, and generally saw the mistakes up close, we should be getting careful now.
As for failure the sign of the times can been seen in the very real world right here in this piece by the New York Times. Some brief highlights consist of;
Hewlett-Packard killing it's iPad competitior TouchPad just 7 weeks after launch.
Microsoft abondoning it's Kin mobile phones only 48 days after launch.
Google killing Wave just 77 days after launch.
And Pure Digital buying Flip Cam for $590m in 2009 and then shutting the entire division this year despite their plans to launch what could have been a game changing Flip Cam Live.
The same hunger for Apple esque blockbusters can also be seen in social marketing. Brand Managers see the case studies (Old Spice Man/ Skittles you know the ones) can then want that for their brand, but for every Old Spice guy their are thousands of low reach social campaigns queued up for the social media grave yard. And even if we do hit success we're then challenged with the belief that every point of engagement is rich, advocacy driving, ongoing relationship type engagement. When it's probably actually not. Again for the few that do engage like this there are thousands who are just sitting back having done their view or like never to be seen again. We need to start getting a bit more realistic about this stuff pretty quick, and here's a good start on that.
Ultimately we've been very good at building the character of social shiz through some great success's, but we're also starting to see it's true character revealed through it's failures. And I for one don't much fancy that dot com down turn conversation in a glass meeting room of a bunch of very smart people who didn't have the forsight to see it coming again.