This is a brilliant write up:
Yes, it’s OK it took me 5,127 attempts to make a bagless vacuum – The Globe and Mail
Failure is such a taboo word. No one wants to be labelled a failure. No one wants to admit to it. And I just can’t understand why.
As an engineer, I deal with failure almost every day. We’re in the lab, building, creating and prototyping and when it’s time to test, it often doesn’t work. An initial idea takes hundreds – or even thousands – of prototypes, all which are considered failures, but eventually we get to that final moment: Success.
Failure is just part of the process. It took me 15 years and 5,127 attempts to develop the first bagless cyclonic vacuum. And I won’t lie, it was frustrating, aggravating – but it was also invigorating, exciting. What matters about failure is that you learn from it.
I have started publicly admitting my failures. Failure shouldn’t be a taboo word. Failure should be embraced as much as success (or more). That’s why social media distorts these realities. I am surprised that in interviews, they don’t ask for failures. They assume success in whatever metric has not been gamed or landed because of favourable opportunities.
There is a definitive yardstick to judge a potential employee by being biased about the origins of his “academic career” as some sort of signalling. Yet, they ignore persistence and consistency. Failure should be embraced not for the super-stars, or leaving a “legacy”, but for the effort required to achieve the outcomes.
This is very instructive:
We encourage our design engineers to think creatively and embrace problem-solving. If it doesn’t work, take a step back, remove something, toggle with something else, and try again. Creativity doesn’t come from instructions, but the guts to look at something in a different way and question it.
There are other numerous failures in technology that Dyson made:
Developing new technology is a gruelling process. And plenty of it never sees the light of day. Walk down the aisles of the Dyson prototype archive; there are many ‘failures.’ Take the Dyson Fuel cell – for three years, 10 engineers worked to adapt a Dyson digital motor so it could sit at the heart of a fuel cell. What resulted was a compact, lightweight and highly efficient digital motor, the V4HF digital motor, which resulted in a 20-per-cent increase in power density and improved efficiency. Whilst this technology hasn’t yet found its perfect application, our findings were substantial and taught us much about digital motors – knowledge we are applying to our small, lightweight cordless vacuums.
Hard work never goes waste.