Everyone gets down sometimes about the failures they’ve experienced, but the Museum of Failure in Helsingborg, Sweden aims to show viewers that everyone fails sometimes, and that’s okay! The museum is set to open on June 7 of this year.
2. The Brains Behind The Museum Of Failure
Dr. Samuel West is a Swedish psychologist and curator at the Museum of Failure. He describes himself as being in charge of the museum, which serves to show an exhibition of failed innovations. He has a doctorate in organizational psychology and advises companies on how to become more successful through embracing their failures.
Dr. West is fascinated by what makes organizations and people tick, which is why he thinks it’s so important to learn about the failures of big businesses. “If you are afraid of failure, then we can’t innovate,” he explains.
Dr. West says that inspiration for the Museum of Failure came to him when he visited the Museum of Broken Relationships. “I couldn’t believe they had a Museum of Broken Relationships,” he says. “Then I decided I had to get busy with my Museum of Failure.”
Dr. West defines failure as when a product does not lead to its expected outcome. He also says that while he did contact all companies that have products featured in the museum, not all of them were cooperative.
The museum will feature more than 60 ridiculous failed products. Dr. West says that he started the museum in order “to encourage organizations to be better at learning from failures - not just ignoring them and pretending they never happened.”
Let’s check out some examples of products featured at the museum…
“Everybody thinks Apple is this non-stop success machine, but Apple definitely has their failures,” says Dr. West. One example of this is the Apple Newton, one of the first PDA devices on the market. It didn’t sell very well, however, because of its size (too big to be considered “pocket-sized”) and the inaccuracy of its pen-based writing system.
We probably don’t really need to explain why this one was a big flop. As Dr. West says sarcastically, “Of course, women can’t use pens for men.” And everyone knows that women only like to use things that are pink and purple!
Harley-Davidson probably went too far from its roots when it tried to branch out and market products that steered away from what it knew best: building motorcycles. The company started producing everything from wine coolers to baby clothes, which loyal customers thought was overextending the brand. Of course, perfume was of no exception!
Google Glass was a failure because of privacy issues. Dr. West says, “The cafes in the San Francisco area said they didn’t want people walking in and filming their customers.” That’s creepy and totally understandable!
Coke Blak was an odd combination of Coca-Cola and coffee-flavor, so it’s really not too surprising that it didn’t end up working out in the long run.
Coca-Cola told the New York Times that the company “constantly tries to innovate and invest in its brands to meet consumers’ changing preferences...[Coke Blak] is a perfect example of this. While the brand had its loyalists, overall it didn’t perform well and was eventually delisted.”
Think about the last time that you actually saw someone riding a Segway. It was probably a group of kids or tourists doing it for some laughs.
Dr. West says that the Segway was a “catastrophic” failure because it fell short of expectations to revolutionize transportation. “Now,” he says, “it’s a silly device for kids or for company team-building activities.”
Nokia had an interesting idea with the N-Gage: it was a handheld gaming console and smartphone in one. However, it wasn’t executed very well, and consumers often complained that its shape was odd, the screen was a strange size, it had a poor library of games, and general bad functionality.
As it turns out, you might not have to travel quite as far to see some of these failed innovations: a collection of some of the museum’s objects is currently touring around Miami, Berlin and Amsterdam.
Dr. West says that he hopes “that you see that these mega-brands that everybody respects, they screw up. I hope that makes you feel less apprehensive about learning something new. If you’re developing a new skill, trying to learn a new language or create something new, you’re going to fail. Don’t be ashamed of it. Let’s learn from these failures, instead of ignoring them.”