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TECH TALK: Of Blue Oceans and Black Swans: Handling Failure

May 26th, 2006 · No Comments

One aspect of blue oceans and black swans strategy is failure. One is likely to suffer more failures than successes. It is important to handle failure well. For me, when things dont work, I consider two things: what I did wrong, and what can I learn. Sometimes, it takes a long time to answer these two questions time helps one understand the things that wrong much more objectively.

I am of those who believe that failures can teach us more than success can. When I started out as an entrepreneur, I thought Id succeed right away. After all, I had a great education and a good set of ideas. The first two-and-a-half years were perhaps the most trying times of my life, and I was very unprepared for things going wrong. When I look back, that period in my life taught me two things: that failure is more likely that success in a business venture, and humility. It is that period I remember when I think things are going well. (As it turns out, most of my life as an entrepreneur has seen things not go well!)

Today, after all these years, I am much more balanced. Age may have something to do with it also. I am now approaching 39. But I think I have still managed to keep the same passion and excitement that I had a decade ago. A lot has to do with the kind of work one is doing and the belief one has, and the people one is working with.

We were not really taught to handle failure as part of our formal education. Even our professional lives, it is mostly about incremental successes. We work in groups, and the buck does not necessarily stop with us. There are always external factors and other people one can partially be held responsible if things go wrong. But as an entrepreneur, there is no passing the buck. The entrepreneur is completely responsible for the things that go wrong. That increases the pressure. Every day is a challenge. Many daily decisions have ramifications beyond just the immediate future. One cannot keep looking in the rear view mirror and play the what-if game.

Many times, we are quite content with the status quo and we let time pass. We do not want to do things differently because we are afraid of failure. We are hesitant to make big bold bets because we worry about what could happen if things go wrong. Failure is par for the course if we want to play for success. The bigger the bets we want to make, the greater the failures we will experience.

So, think blue oceans and black swans. Imagine the world of tomorrow and build it. In the context of India today, this is even more important we have to make up for many decades of lost time. Technology can provide leapfrog opportunities. They are there in every area. We have do it is to be willing to think different.


TECH TALK Of Blue Oceans and Black Swans+T

Tags: Tech Talk

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