Can Failure be an IT Best Practice?

Yes, in fact I believe that some failure is required to enhance IT business value and enable a competitive advantage. 

To meet evolving business needs, IT must innovate.  With the rate and pace of business increasing faster than ever before, IT is being asked to partner with business leaders, drive innovation that improves employee productivity, enables business growth, creates business efficiencies and delivers resilient solutions.

So where does failure fit into this discussion?  Obviously, the business does not want solutions that don’t work… they demand solutions that are easy, fast, mobile and secure.  However, they do need new solutions and new processes which implies invention.  This means creating business solutions that do not yet exist and often times with technologies and usages that have never been done before.

By definition, innovation, invention and scientific discovery are all processes that require trial and error, and have a degree of failure associated with them.  In fact, some of the best inventors experience a tremendous amount of failure, before succeeding.  I always think of the old videos showing Orville and Wilbur Wright crashing plane after plane before achieving flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Thankfully, we remember and appreciate them for their successes, and not their failures.

The value of the innovation process is clearly not centered around the failure itself, but what you do next. 

Failure without learning is waste, but failure with learning is fundamental to progress.


These themes were reinforced for me at both CIO Magazine’s annual CIO 100 Award Symposium and Intel IT’s annual Technology Leaders Conference held earlier this week.  At both conferences, senior leaders were encouraging their IT teams and their peers to push the envelope on innovation, challenge the status quo, and invent a new normal.

This level of bold innovation will result in some failure and does represent the price of admission for creation, change and business value.  The challenge for the inventor is to maximize learning, minimize risk, and accelerate the pace of the innovation cycle.  Someone told that a key to successful innovation is to fail fast and fail often.

The question is what will drive your actions tomorrow --- the fear of failure or the benefits of bold innovation?

Intel IT is passionate about driving business value through innovation and sharing IT best practices with our industry peers.

Learn more about the Intel IT organization at

Chris (follow me on twitter @Chris_P_Intel)