Innovation and Failure

August 3, 2021 | Carrie

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Naturally, we love to celebrate and share our success stories and we shy away from discussing our failures. However, failure is an inevitable part of life and the learnings that come out of failure are often more valuable than the success itself. Soichiro Honda, the founder of Honda once said that "success is 99% failure." 

Without the freedom to try new things and fail, innovation isn’t possible. An article in Forbes magazine entitled "Creating An Innovation Culture: Accepting Failure is Necessary" states:

"Failure is a necessary part of the innovation process because from failure comes learning, iteration, adaptation, and the building of new conceptual and physical models through an iterative learning process. Almost all innovations are the result of prior learning from failures."


This is why it is so important for organizations to create a culture where people are free to experiment, fail and learn from their mistakes. Viewing our failures through a positive lens helps us to learn and grow from our experiences and ultimately be more successful.

The Toronto Public Library has some excellent resources if you’re interested in learning more about learning from failure.


Book Recommendations

Brilliant Mistakes

Brilliant Mistakes



Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure


Failing Forward

Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes into Stepping Stones for Success


How to fail at almost everything

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life


Fail fast fail often

Fail Fast, Fail Often: How Losing Can Help You Win


Fail More

Fail More: Embrace, Learn, and Adapt to Failure As a Way to Success


eLearning Resources

For all of these resources, you will need a current Toronto Public Library card. You can also use them with our Digital Access card.

Courses from LinkedIn Learning (formerly

Online tutorials that you can take at your own pace. Create an account to track your progress. To follow the links below to these courses. Course descriptions are all from LinkedIn Learning.

Learning from Failure

"Failure and fault are not necessarily the same thing, yet many of us are raised to believe that if we fail, we have done something wrong. In fact, failure is a normal and necessary part of life. In this course, coach Todd Dewett explains the psychology of failure, the difference between good failure (thoughtful experimentation) and bad failure (reckless negligence), and why all failure is an opportunity to learn."

Creating Success from Failures

"Most people cringe at failure and avoid it whenever possible. Failing isn’t pleasant, but it isn’t fatal. In this course, executive coach Audrey Genevieve Daniels draws on her long experience leading organizations through disruptive change to help you to evolve from past failures and move past adversity stronger than before. Audrey shares actionable insights that help you not just to own your failures, but to thrive because of them."


O’Reilley for Public Libraries (Formerly Safari Tech & Business Books Online)

In addition to eBooks, O'Reilley for Public Libraries also offers streaming video courses on technology and business topics. You will need to log in using your TPL card to access this video.

Embracing Risk & Failure

"Discover why preparing for failure can produce stronger, more resilient systems."



Online collection of business, management, biomedical and life sciences lectures, case studies and case study interviews by leading experts in academia, industry and commerce. You will need to log in using your TPL card to access this video.

Innovation: Living with Risk and Embracing Failure

"This case study looks at 3M as an example of a company that accomplished great innovation by allowing its team to take risks without fear of the consequences of failure."