Take Time Out before Slapping on a Label
Failure is such a dramatic word. So final.
While many are quick to pronounce the demise of an ambitious project, I like to think of myself as an optimist.
I believe that many technologies succeed, but perhaps not in the time or manner preferred.
Whether the criteria are financial, market, social or psychological, timing seems to be the linchpin to everything.
Two terrific examples come from the article The Top Technology Failures of 2014. In short order, this article pronounces failure for Google Glass, Brazil’s EEG Exoskeleton, Bitcoin and a handful of other ambitious efforts that are by no means kaput.
For example, the section on Brazil’s EEG Exoskeleton describes a paralyzed person kicking the soccer ball at the 2014 World Cup with a brain-controlled exoskeleton. “Rather than a man rising from a wheelchair and walking, the exoskeleton seemed to have achieved a simpler task of moving one foot forward to hit the ball.” See the video here.
Is this culmination of “17 months of insane work” not enough to meet our insatiable needs?
The section on Google Glass deals with a well-funded product with no firm delivery date.
Why do we pronounce failure? Supposedly it wasn’t widely adopted (I deliberately avoid the word “fail”) because of the social stigma for the wearers. I have not been an avid follower or tester of this technology, though.
I propose that Google Glass’ slow adoption is purely a social acceptance problem that relates to time. As society is exposed to technology, they become more accepting. I think this product is ahead of its time.
Timing is critical to evaluating the exoskeleton, as well. The ambitious team had a short amount of time to develop and build the device, then train the user how to control it by a specific date. They achieved, in my opinion, a great goal (pun intended).
Did these two technologies fail? No. But neither did they meet their fully desired goals… at this point in time.
That doesn’t mean failure. They both are very likely to continue development and I believe will re-enter the market in the future.
Would you label the results of the Google Glass and the EEG Exoskeleton as a failure? Should failure be proclaimed when the product doesn’t sell as much as anticipated earlier in the process? Or misses a deadline? Do you think time was a factor or just a reasonable excuse?
The question of time is one we routinely ask clients to consider when evaluating a new idea.
How do you factor in time when determining whether a technology is a success?
Graphics credit: Tim.Reckmann (Wikimedia)