I’ve been having some interesting conversations with some of our favorite people like Mari Kuraishi, Jim Koch and Marla Capozzi, about a topic we don’t probe much in development: what we do with an innovative project fails.
In Silicon Valley, as Mari and Marla reminded me lately, you earn your spurs trying and failing. It is almost easier to get funding if you have failed a few times. Venture capital firms assume you learned some valuable things in the process. It’s a credential. But in development? Failing with a donor’s money? Even when you said you were piloting something or trying something new? Surely you failed because you didn’t get the job done, weren’t smart enough, or ran into politics.
We don’t even track failures for the most part, only successes and results. Perhaps we need to change that mentality, though, if we want to get better at innovation for development. Perhaps Development Marketplace should have been tracking and analyzing not just the projects that took off and grew, but why some of our winning projects didn’t take off or reach their goals. Maybe those were important conversations to have. Maybe we would have found that the leaders of those projects dusted themselves off and found new ways to keep going.
We want to open the discussion about innovation in development up as wide as possible. Let’s think of the topics we don’t usually discuss and put them squarely on the table. What else should we be discussing?