Thoughts on Embracing Failure

We’re Not Crashing Airplanes.

It’s the start of a new year, which can only mean that by the time you’ll be reading this, we’ll all be knee-deep in trade shows, education seminars, and other meetings that somehow manage to keep us all extremely busy during the darkest, grayest part of the year.

It’s during this time of the year that I find it difficult to spend as much time in the lab as I would like. There’s nothing that can replace the quiet and solitude that the lab brings. As the old Wide World of Sports used to say, it truly brings the thrill of victory, and most certainly the agony of defeat. (Some of you may not remember the Wide World of Sports; if this is the case, check it out on YouTube.)

Failure is a part of the process, and in the formulation business, it is something that should be embraced. With failure comes the opportunity to learn. And what’s the downside if the formulation doesn’t go quite as planned? Dispose of the contents in an environmentally responsible way and try it again. As I often remind the Foliar-Pak team, we’re not crashing airplanes.

Product development is a part of every true manufacturing business. If you’re not working to improve your product, you’re not doing your job. I once saw a story about the development process for the famed Japanese Mitsubishi AM6 “Zero.” The Japanese saw the importance of developing a fighter jet that could compete in the sky, and the Mitsubishi company competed with other companies to produce the best aircraft for that purpose. The product development process was intense, and test aircrafts crashed as each new iteration was produced. Many lives were lost in the process, but in the end, Mitsubishi produced the AM6 “Zero”-a product that was revolutionary at the time-and the rest, as they say, is history.

Failure is an integral part of discovery and innovation. We embrace this fact and seek to learn in every step of the process-both in the failures and in the successes. We’re grateful for our partners, and for the products and inventions that got us to where we are now, but we recognize and understand that product innovation never stops. We owe it to our partners, and to the industry in general, to continue to fail, iterate, invent, pivot, and eventually find success.

The process can be daunting at times, but the reward, the thrill of victory if you will, is worth it. Helping our customers and partners find success in their day-to-day jobs is what it’s all about. So, as the days become longer and we begin to see the first signs of spring, be on the lookout for some new Foliar-Pak products. And while no one lost their life bringing these products to the market, I can guarantee we all lost some sleep (and maybe a few lab coats).

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About the Author George Murray

George C. Murray is the president of EnP where he is also the chief formulator and inventor. Along with a BS in Management, summa cum laude, from Purdue’s Krannert School of Management and some experience at the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law, George also has a strong background in plant physiology, plant metabolomics, soil ecology, biology, and formulation chemistry. This allows him to understand the practical implications—both from business and technical aspects—of what it means to bring a new technology to market. With several patents filed, George continues to drive EnP’s technologies to a new level, providing an unparalleled level of product performance and value to EnP’s customers.

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