What Can We Learn from Failure? The Museum of Failures

By July 13, 2017General

Video by Quartz

A museum that features some of the most awesome and bizarre failed inventions from around the world was opened in Helsinborg, Sweden, with pop-ups in cities like New York and Miami.

Their tagline? “Learning is the only way to turn failure into success”. So, although many of the museum items can make you giggle or wonder why someone thought it would be a success in the first place, they also “provide visitors a fascinating learning experience” (Museum of Failure). “I genuinely believe that as a society we underestimate failure,” Museum collector, Dr. Samuel¬†West, told NBC News. “We are too obsessed with success.” Take a gander through their website, or ‘pop’ into one of their pop-ups in person, and ask yourself what we can stand to learn from each item.

Here are some of the failed inventions featured at the museum & lessons they may teach us:

  1. The Product: Bic (For Her). Pink and purple pens made for women.
    The Lesson: You may actually remember seeing this product in an episode of Ellen. It was a marketing catastrophe. You can market some products to women and men separately. Pens? Not so much. Not all marketing tactics apply to all products. Stick to what is relevant to you and your industry.
  2. The Product: Harley Davidson Cologne
    The Lesson: When you think of this brand, do you think, perfume? No, right? Brands work hard to shape their image in consumers’ minds, so going in a completely different direction can be risky. Relevance is key.
  3. The Product: Rejuvenique. A pretty scary-looking mask that ‘rejuvenates your face’ by shocking it.
    The Lesson: Do your research, specifically your market research. Would you buy this mask?

Besides the awesome failed inventions at display in the museum, it also boasts some really unique events and performances. Coming this week you could enjoy a piano concert by world-renowned pianist Per Tengstrand, for example, with a twist: he is playing a selection of the “less successful music from famous composers”. ¬†Also, you may or may not enjoy their upcoming ‘Failed Beer Tasting’ event, where you can taste some unsuccessful local brews. They also encourage suggestions (“the crazier the better”) so if you have any fun ideas for failure-related events they want to hear about it.

This museum does shed light on how innovation can be risky, which makes organizations that exist to advise and protect inventors and their products, like the United Inventors Association of America, even more important. Make48 CEO Tom Gray is a board member of this organization. Connecting with these organizations, doing thorough research, getting to know your local invention community, and having mentors are good measures that all inventors should take. Here are some simple tips for first time inventors from Make48’s CEO.

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