What is the price when you fail?


This week, Elon Musk watched as his latest attempt at landing his Space X Falcon 9 rocket went wrong, ice froze one of the legs and the entire rocket toppled over and exploded.

That’s another $60 million up in smoke. What was Elon’s reaction?

First, he tweeted “Well, at least the pieces were bigger this time!”

Then, he posted a video of the explosion on Instagram.

And finally, he posted yesterday “My best guess for 2016: ~ 70% landing success rate (so still a few more RUDs to go), then hopefully improving to ~90% in 2017.”

“RUD” stands for “Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly” which is another way of saying “it blew up”…

What can we learn from Elon happily blowing up his rockets?

Most people would see this as an expensive failure, but Elon is a master of learning by failing, and he expects to fail epically and often.

It doesn’t cost Elon to fail as he builds it into his business model. Each Falcon rocket is expected to be lost anyway if he wasn’t testing how to land them. This one had already done its job of delivering an ocean monitoring satellite in orbit, which had already paid for the rocket.

This year, there are another 10 to 20 falcon rockets scheduled for take-off, each already paid for by the companies and governments paying Elon to send their cargos to space. With revenue secure, he focuses his time on how to test new innovations (like landing the rockets back safely).

We’ve moved from the industrial age where product development and testing took place BEFORE delivery, to the technological age where product development and testing takes place DURING delivery.

How can you increase the testing you can do? When in front of customers? When serving your customers? When delivering an existing product to develop the next product?

In the old paradigm, it was easy to dismiss testing as being too costly.
In the new paradigm, it’s NOT testing that’s far more expensive.

When Elon finally works out how to return his rockets each time, he’ll be saving himself over a billion dollars of lost rockets each year – and he’ll be able to cost his trips to be far ahead of the competition.

You don’t need to be a billionaire like Elon to test like him.
But you do need to test like Elon to be a billionaire like him.

Failing isn’t where the price is. Failing is where the profit is.

“If things aren’t failing, you are not innovating enough.” ~ Elon Musk

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