How to Make Sure Your Innovative Solution Fails

No matter how good your solution, it will likely be regarded a failure if you don’t implement it well.  Research conducted by Professor Paul C. Nutt at Ohio State University revealed that 50% of decisions are, in fact, never fully implemented.  Our own research revealed that whenever something new is being implemented, fire-fighting activities were an all too common occurrence as 83% of the respondents said fire-fighting occurred regularly following an implementation.

Most organizations will develop contingency and back-up plans to deal with the unexpected results from implementing a change to a process, a technology or a product.  However, few of those plans focus much attention on identifying and implementing measures that are designed to reduce the likelihood of a potential future problem.  Instead, most contingency plans will focus on reducing the seriousness of a problem.

To illustrate, imagine if you were building a movie theatre and you were concerned about a fire.  What comes immediately to your mind?  If you are like most people, you will immediately think of things like fire alarms, sprinkler systems, fire exits and training people to conduct a safe and orderly evacuation of the building.  These are all important considerations but they only minimize the seriousness of a fire.  Now, what do you think of when asked how to prevent a fire at your movie theater?  Likely your attention turns to issues like non-flammable building materials, regular fire inspections and a no smoking policy anywhere near the theater.

Ben Franklin once famously said “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  Take a look at your goals and plans for the year.  What are you doing that is new, different or unusual?  Now, spend a few minutes making a list of things that could go wrong with your plans.  For each item on your list, identify at least one action you can take to prevent mistakes from occurring.   Implement these preventive actions and you will dramatically increase your likelihood of a successful implementation.

Don’t let your innovative solutions become an example of failure.  Think preventive first.

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