Having in mind that innovation involves the exploration of unknown technologies and business problems that have never been solved before, it is not surprising that tolerance for failure is an important characteristic of innovative companies. We have seen the biggest innovators fail: recall Apple’s MobileMe, Google Glass, and the Amazon Fire Phone. But tolerance for failure does not mean they do tolerate incompetence.
Moreover, a willingness to experiment does not mean working without any rules. Without discipline almost any initiative can be justified as an experiment. Discipline-oriented teams select experiments carefully looking at criteria such as their potential learning value and the potential of the technology to become the next big thing.
True innovation can be considered a sweet spot where it is psychologically safe, but requires putting in 120% of effort to ensure the success of the experiment.
Looking from the people perspective, R&D initiatives are a team effort, but there needs to be individual accountability to ensure the goals of the experiment are met.