Innovation is critical to growth but remains a tough business: For all the effort and resources that are poured into innovations, very few succeed in the long term. According to Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen, there are over 30,000 new products introduced every year, and 95 percent fail. Even among professional venture-capital backed startups, only 1-2 out of 10 are truly successful (those are the ones we hear about), while 3-4 completely disappear and the others limp along with middling performance.
While the human tendency is to “bury the dead” quickly, every failure should have a deep dive analysis as to what went right and what went wrong (both are always part of the story). Such a review can lead to better understanding for future new products … Was it a timing issue? Was there a mis-match between the customer’s problem and offered solution? Did the marketing plan miss the best audience or not motivate the ones it reached? There are hundreds of potential reasons for failure, and every failed launch will be unique. Burying a failure means the same mistakes will likely be repeated, or a missed opportunity to create propositions that repurpose elements of the failed product. Conducting an honest analysis (and avoiding blaming the messengers) while drafting the eulogy for a failed product should help improve the odds of success for future new products.