How Creativity Is Helped By Failure.

Robin HamiltonCreative Director

Creativity is often depicted as the eureka moment that strikes without warning, leaving behind a clear vision. In reality this far from the truth.

A recent BBC Magazine feature highlights the role failure plays in the creative process as a design college launches a new exhibition featuring rough drafts, preliminary sketches and mess-ups from prestigious designers and illustrators.

Mount Ida College in Massachusetts wanted its students to engage with the process behind the finished product, to reach into the true characteristics of creativity – including the failures.

Learning from our mistakes and accepting failure as an intrinsic part of the creative process is vital to success. Teams and individuals behind some of the world’s most successful inventions, brands, and works of art experienced multiple setbacks and failures before finally producing the final product.

Creative visions don’t strike like lightening bolts at precisely the right time, but rather are created through a series of setbacks, failures and experiments that lead to something great. Practice and perseverance are key to creating a great work of art, and by learning from our mistakes we can all improve our creativity.

One famous example of innovation success is the British inventor James Dyson, who created the dual cyclone vacuum cleaner. Now used by millions, the vacuum cleaner wasn’t created in a flash of inspiration, but is the product of over 5,000 failed prototypes. Dyson tried and failed on multiple occasions, learnt from his failures and slowly the design improved.

One of the biggest challenges facing creativity today is that many don’t consider the process behind the final product. Creativity should be viewed as a journey that includes making, and correcting mistakes along the way. Daring to fail is a powerful concept that has developed some of the most successful organisations in the world, including Google, Apple, Dyson and Pixar who have all developed cultures of accepting failures and the courage to test ideas.


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