Once in a while, a large software company will invest a lot of time and money in a product that simply fails out of the box. (By way of example, consider Microsoft’s Millennium Edition and Vista operating systems.) With its long track record of successes, Google surprised everyone earlier this month by choosing not to continue work on its Google Wave platform. This is after tons of promotion and hype that the Wave would change the way everyone thinks, communicates, and interacts with each other. After spending months in Beta trial, however, the Wave just didn’t draw the user base that it needed to be successful. http://www.fiercecio.com/story/google-waves-bye-bye-wave/2010-08-07.
As embarrassing as it must have been for the management at Google to come forth and admit that the Wave was a failure, one has to give them credit for doing so. It is always difficult to put time, money, and energy into a project and to know that, regardless of our efforts, it’s not working. Not only do we do this in our personal lives, we do it in our workplaces. Can you think of a project that your organization tried that failed? How long did it take to make the decision to pull the plug? (Have you even pulled the plug yet?)
In the economic downturn of the last few years, we keep hearing nonprofit management experts tell us that we need to consider our programming and to not be afraid of cutting programs that aren’t working. To witness a large, successful company like Google doing just that is very encouraging, don’t you think? Will the company go under because of that failure? Not likely. Google has had too many other successes to allow one failure to make or break it. It would have been worse for Google to launch the software and have it linger as an embarrassment, while continuing to spend resources supporting it.
With this in mind, consider your own organization. Are there any “Waves” that you need to eliminate from your programming? Perhaps it’s time to be brave, stop doing unproductive programs (or figure out a way to change them so that they can be a success), and use sorely-needed resources for programs and projects that are actually working well.
“Don't be discouraged by a failure. It can be a positive experience. Failure is, in a sense, the highway to success, inasmuch as every discovery of what is false leads us to seek earnestly after what is true, and every fresh experience points out some form of error which we shall afterwards carefully avoid.”
- John Keats
“Success isn't permanent, and failure isn't fatal.”
- Mike Ditka