How The ‘Failure’ Culture Of Startups Is Killing Innovation

Erika Hall | Wired | September 11, 2013

Far from being the measure of disgrace it once was, failure now seems to be a sort of badge of honor. But underlying many popular Silicon Valley failure clichés is entrepreneurs’ belief that “starting companies these days is akin to doing research in the past” — as if we don’t need research when the opportunity to fail is so readily available.

Somewhere along the way, it got to be uncool to reduce one’s risk of failure.

Part of this may be because the risk of failure is dramatically lower than it used to be. But another reason is that many people don’t actually understand what research is, and have somehow conflated concepts like “rapid prototyping,” “lean startup,” “minimal viable product,” and “[insert] other smart-sounding thing to do” with avoiding research.

That kind of thinking might be fine for entrepreneurs focusing only on their personal risk and fear of failure, but it has real financial, cultural, and opportunity costs for businesses. (The opportunity cost includes all the needs that go unmet because they didn’t happen to occur to a lone entrepreneur or narrowly focused team.)