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“We hear from the C-Suite that they embrace risk and supposedly 86 percent of innovative projects should fail because if not, we’re not being innovative enough”

Joel Schall, Director of Technology and Innovation for General Industrial Adhesives, Henkel.

That drastic level of failure needed in order to generate innovative ideas is well known and accepted, but even so, those in the C-Suite, responsible for funding innovative projects are not nearly as accepting of failure.

“I don’t see that there’s always the same sort of embracing of failure when it comes to performance review time,” said Schall. “I think there’s some dialogue there about what are we saying versus how we’re actually living it.”

There are so many complicated issues with regards to how the company builds its business in the short-and long-term. Not only is there a need to embrace failure, and see its value, but there’s a need to manage portfolio of projects and understand what’s more valuable for an engineer or chemist’s time.

“Sometimes you need to kill the good projects because there are better projects,” said Schall.

That’s not so clear and often requires ongoing dialogue. There’s going to be an inevitable butting of heads as you figure out that equilibrium. But what’s most important is that you have the structure in place where you can address the conflicts, said Schall.

* Photo by Bryan Minear on Unsplash

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