Museum of Failure
When Superlab wrote the book Playful Office back in 2016, we found that innovation and creativity is substantially negatively affected by the lack of psychological safety in organizations. The ruling norm at workplaces today is to show positive sides, to be flexible, smart and driven. Most importantly, we don’t want to be the one committing mistakes. But this fear can result in lots of unused capacity in the group and the organization at large. And further, we all know that most innovations fail!
In relation to writing about this matter, we fired up a parallel project: the Museum of Failure, financed by the innovation fund Vinnova. This project sprung from the realization that there lies a huge value in displaying failures, and not only giving room to successes. We gathered as many failed innovations as we could find and made an exhibition out of them, which offered visitors an interesting learning experience and unique insight into the risky part of innovation.
The interest for the museum was explosive even before the opening. An article in the local newspaper turned into a media storm. As the media and press around the world found out about the museum, we suddenly found ourselves being interviewed 24/7. Within weeks we had been featured in over 250 top newspapers, TV and all other types of media. The news network Al Jazeera came to our office and did a short video that reviced over 4 million views in a couple of days. Since the opening of the first exhibition 2017 in Helsingborg, the museum has been shown in all major TV- and radio channels, press and social media around the world. Even live interviews with BBC News (UK), CTV (Canada) and TV4 (Sweden), and Seth Meyers used the museum of failure in his TV-show Late Night (NBC).
Since the original first exhibition in Helsingborg, copies of the museum and its philosophy have popped up in other parts of the world. We believe this burning interest for displaying failure within innovation shows that there is a longing for allowing mistakes and losses to be shown. To recognise that only from daring to risk failure are we able to create new solutions.