Dyson on failure

Posted on May 19, 2007 
Filed Under Uncategorized

Sir James Dyson tells Fast Company he failed 5,126 times before he finally got the bagless vacuum cleaner right.

Some choice quotes:

We’re taught to do things the right way. But if you want to discover something that other people haven’t, you need to do things the wrong way. Initiate a failure by doing something that’s very silly, unthinkable, naughty, dangerous. Watching why that fails can take you on a completely different path. It’s exciting, actually…

It can take a very long time to develop interesting products and get them right. But our society has an instant- gratification thing. We admire instant brilliance, effortless brilliance. I think quite the reverse. You should admire the person who perseveres and slogs through and gets there in the end…

A lot of people give up when the world seems to be against them, but that’s the point when you should push a little harder. I use the analogy of running a race. It seems as though you can’t carry on, but if you just get through the pain barrier, you’ll see the end and be okay. Often, just around the corner is where the solution will happen…

I am quite exacting. I learned that from the Japanese company I did a licensing agreement with. They would make hundreds of changes to products after they launched them, often at enormous costs. I asked them, “Why do that?” They said, “Oh, we’re not worried if we don’t make money for ten years. We want to get a perfect product.” They have this wonderful expression, “You’ve got to suffer before you succeed.”



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