I have successfully failed many times.
I’m not one of those people who want to tell you how much you learn in failure. I think success does wonders for the soul (not to be taken in any religious context at all) and I like to think of ‘learning’ as that deep transformative experience that literally makes me think and act differently. Success does that.
Failing to succeed is not the same as succeeding to fail. At least I don’t think so. My latest venture SlideJar has failed to succeed commercially but it has gone through some very successful failures that have changed how I think and act. Let me stop the head scratching. From the beginning SlideJar has been an experiment and remains to this day an experiment. SlideJar began as Anancloud, an app to help people find efficiencies in searching through their archives of PowerPoint presentation. Anancloud to this day is still up and continues to get subscribers. We have never really marketed the application but Anancloud went through intense market testing to find its niche (alot of money was well spent in doing this). The tool itself was crafted around the need.
When we took Anancloud to the event industry, we were no longer addressing a need, we instead devised an experiment. The experiment was, would people find the ability to search conference proceedings at a slide level useful, and would that drive event organizers to pay for their attendees to have that tool? We answered the first part of that equation early on – yes, attendees found it useful and liked it. We also partially answered the second part but before we did that, we created a new experiment. Enter SlideJar.
Instead of event organizers paying for the application, would attendees find value in ‘saving’ content from conferences into a digital space that allowed them to go back and review content, share content and reuse content differently than its initial context. Here is where we successfully failed. The answer is actually ‘no’ or so our experiment would suggest. Folks, the data that we have on this experiment is awesome. Its this success in failing that has taught me so much. Some of the things I’ve learned:
a) In a digital media business, the clients are corporate;
b) ‘Better’ is not enough to change behavior;
c) Design needs to have a laser sharp focus on the business model (this includes graphic design, workflows, etc);
d) Running ‘agile’ is easier said than done;
The most important thing I have learned is that there is no ‘perfect’ solution. You need to operate businesses as experiments and continually succeed in failing. SlideJar continues to be operated in this way with our latest experiment centered around our ability to provide great data around the value of content. To some degree we have already succeeded. As our success continues to grow, I hope to continue running experiments and letting those experiments transform who I am.