It's OK to FAIL: How can we celebrate failure as part of innovation?

full_1336694450_fa65826c39_z.jpgWoody Allen once said, "If you're not failing now and again, it's a sign you're not doing anything very innovative." So when it comes to urban innovation, how do we turn failure into a badge of honor rather than a mark of shame? How can we create an environment where people aren't afraid of trying new things?

We’ve all been in group brainstorm sessions where everyone is shouting out ideas but none of them really solve the problem at hand. It sounds counterintuitive, but social designer Marc O'Brien says trying to come up with right answers shuts down our creativity. The key to generating truly innovative ideas, he says, is learning how to challenge the status quo—which is why he's busy trying to teach people how to "think wrong"

People "need to keep their imagination alive and not feel like they need to be right all the time," says O'Brien, who facilitates a workshop series called "How to Think Wrong." That's difficult because by the time we're adults, we're afraid of failure. People tend to do things—including thinking of ideas—the same way over and over again because it feels safe. Yet working within our comfort zone renders us unable to approach problems with a truly fresh perspective.


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