Building an Analytic Culture Part I: Failures can accelerate the path to success

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“In April 2013, Planet Labs launched two demonstration satellites to test technologies and operations on a space-based platform”[i]. “In early 2014, Planet Labs will launch the world’s largest constellation of Earth observing satellites.” In a matter of months, planet labs will have surpassed NASA’s earth observation capability by an unimaginable order of magnitude with each […]

“In April 2013, Planet Labs launched two demonstration satellites to test technologies and operations on a space-based platform”[i]. “In early 2014, Planet Labs will launch the world’s largest constellation of Earth observing satellites.” In a matter of months, planet labs will have surpassed NASA’s earth observation capability by an unimaginable order of magnitude with each Satellite having more power than any similar satellite launched to date. This was done without NASA[ii] like funding or NASA like timelines or NASA like solutions that require perfection of each component as illustrated by the famous quote “Failure is not an option[iii]”.  This was possible because Planet labs was more focused on ultimate success rather on a singular focus on perfection and failure. I would expect each component from Planet labs to be less robust than anything NASA has deployed but I fully expect the whole solution to be an order of magnitude more productive, reliable and robust than anything NASA has developed to date. This example illustrates how a culture based on learning from failure, learning to fail fast can accelerate the timeline to a desired outcome. This example also illustrates how massively redundant processes and solutions are faster, better and cheaper than solutions  that are designed only with the component level reliability in mind while compromising on the overall macro solution.
The journey to move from a culture of fixed paths to desired outcomes and develop a culture of Analytics and Experimentation where failure is part of the process and journey is not easy. Many organizations will fail to make the change and if history is right, we will see agile companies with a culture steeped in change and innovation starting to disrupt established players who are caught up with inflexible processes, bureaucracy and procedures.
Big Data and Analytics bring tremendous potential to an organization to enable vetting out of hypotheses, experimentation and to learn to fail fast. In order to realize this potential organizations need to look beyond technology and take a close look at their culture and their processes. To succeed in utilizing Big data for innovation, organizations must embrace failure as a learning tool while ultimately focusing on success.


[ii] Neither Goutham Belliappa nor Capgemini is affiliated with Planet Labs or NASA

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