Success, the high altar of our culture. Failure, the dungeon of our culture. But our success culture is in deep and fundamental conflict with entrepreneurship, innovation, risk-taking, learning and, inextricably, failure. Success without failure is simply …. luck. Innovation is a double helix built with creativity, risky exploration, testing assumptions, sweat, failures, learning, retrenchment, re-creation, re-exploration, re-learning, mutation, and eventual victory. Failure is not the opposite of success, but its compliment.

This course overturns the common knowledge of failure and success, and proposes that failure has to be embraced as an essential platform for innovation and success. The course examines the frequently contradictory views of failure in the Silicon Valley and venture capital arenas. We will also hear, first-hand, the failure/success stories from Silicon Valley executives and venture capitalists, as well as venture leaders operating in developing countries. We will examine the state-of-the-art entrepreneurial methods for embracing failure such as Y Combinator, Fast Failure and Failure Tolerant Leadership.

The course will review the academic literature on failure, discussing its causes and prescriptions for prevention. In particular, we will look at the engineering view of failure, including the FMEA approach (Failure Mode and Effects Analysis) and the possible application of this approach to the business world. We will also examine and discuss cross-cultural views of failure and risk-taking.

We will examine how the pace of competitive knowledge offered through modern communication technologies, has caused some of the old, classical methods of planning and managing business risk to be supplanted by more agile methods which incorporate frequent, real-world, testing of scenarios and assumptions – and explicitly incorporating knowledge from “failures.”

We will examine current research on the psychology of failure. Students will participate in diagnostic tests to help them understand their own unique patterns and proclivities to fail. They will also examine their own resilience and paths to recovery and renewal.

9:00am-5:30pm on Sunday, Saturday (Mar 5, 2016 to Mar 6, 2016)
McGowan MG100