Clear processes are also essential for dealing with one of the hard realities of innovation: failure. In this context, innovation can be seen as analogous to baseball—a star player on offense is one who fails about 70 percent of the time.
As Otis’s Diehl puts it, “What’s important sometimes is not how a company deals with success but how it deals with failure. There is a sense in which the best innovators know how to reward failure, as oxymoronic as that may seem. An initiative that stretches an organization, that results in pushing back the boundaries of knowledge and of products—that’s something that companies have to find a way to acknowledge, even if it does not result in a breakthrough product or process.”
Indeed, the risk of failure may be the most frequent killer of innovation.