When you focus all your efforts on emulating and copying only the most successful people and organisations, you are opening yourself to the survivorship bias.

Sometimes we have more to learn from those that've failed. For example, when investigators analysed evacuation survival rates after plane crashes, they found that the critical determinant if someone is going to survive is not their physical or mental state—but if they did or didn't try to take their belongings from the overhead bin.

There are many, many, failed innovations out there—so many in fact, that there is a Museum of Failure. Successes are well documented, but failures usually only if they've led to some tragic outcome.

Here's an easy exercise to increase the likelihood of your innovation project to succeed:

  • List all failed projects in your organisation, from the last three years (five if you wish).
  • For each, list one to three factors you believe led to their failure. (Check final or post-mortem report for each project if you can.)
  • Tally up the results, and sort your list in descending order.

Now all you have to do is avoid the things on your list... That might not guarantee success, but on the other hand, if you repeat the same mistakes then failure is bound to happen.

Feeling stuck? Here are some causes from the top of my head: lack of strategic alignment, lack of clear value proposition, lack of market need, lack of commitment, trying to do too many things at the same time, not having the right people in the right role...

I've also written an ebook that outlines nine costliest innovation mistakes and how to avoid them. You can download it here:

9 Big Don’ts of Corporate Innovation
How to spot and avoid costly innovation mistakes.