The Museum of Failure is a collection of the odd and hilarious products that businesses have developed and released into the market over the years. It includes Colgate’s beef lasagna, Harley-Davidson’s leather perfume and Bic’s pens “For Her”.
Samuel West, the researcher and organizational psychologist behind this collection, says that he has grown weary of people worshiping success. Each failure is unique. Real progress comes from learning the complex lessons each failure offers us – something many companies choose to ignore.
The museum is set to open in June 2017 in Helsingborg, Sweden. It hopes to rid personal and professional failure of the social stigma is suffers today.
The museum will be divided into sections and a tours of the ill-conceived thought process that causes a product to tank, will be offered.
Most of the products on display have one thing in common – brand over-extensions. Colgate tried its hand at the “frozen dinner” market in the 1980s with its beef lasagna, but soon realized that people weren’t enthusiastic about purchasing frozen lasagna from their favorite toothpaste brand.
Coca-Cola’s BlāK, a coffee-flavored Coke released in 2006, vanished in two years. Harley-Davidson’s Hot Road perfume fizzled out.
Other products failed because of glaring flaws in the design. The Nokia N-Gage flopped because it tried to be too much – a smartphone and a handheld gaming device. Few games were available and it was inconvenient to change games. It had to be opened to be used as a phone.
Twitter Peek popped up in 2008 as a tweeting device that was expected to help people save expensive phone data but its tiny screen and inability to handle more than a few tweets caused it to fail.
Some products failed for no fault of the product but its refusal to move forward. Kodak’s digital camera could have led the company into the future digital camera market with ease, had they let go of photo printing. The company went bankrupt in 2012.
Some products like the “shocking mask” by the actress Linda Evans, in 1999 are too strange to use. It claimed to beautify a customer’s face by subjecting it to shocks a number of times a month.
Samuel West hopes that these exhibits will encourage people to respect failures and not simply point and laugh at them, forgetting about them moments later. In an environment of psychological safety where people can ask “silly” questions and share imperfections without being ridiculed or judged, productivity, innovation and eventually success are bound to follow. “Learning is the only process that turns failure into success,” says West.