"Genius is in-born, may it never be still-born."

"Oysters, irritated by grains of sand, give birth to pearls. Brains, irritated by curiosity, give birth to ideas."

"Brainpower is the bridge to the future; it is what transports you from wishful thinking to willful doing."

"Unless you keep learning & growing, the status quo has no status."

Friday, March 27, 2009


I have read the book 'Innovate or Die : A Personal Perspective on the Art of Innovation' by Jack Matson, an award-winning innovator, during the nineties.

In reality, this book is an enhanced version of the author's two earlier books, respectively entitled 'The Art of Innovation: Using Intelligent Fast Failure' & ‘How to Fail Successfully: A Bold Approach to Meeting Your Goals Through Intelligent Fast Failure’.

The latter two books were originally published in 1991, with the earlier one by The Penn State University (The Leonard Center for Innovation & Enhancement of Engineering Education).

The books' core philosophy was based on the author's personal experiences in exploring creativity & innovation with engineering design students in his 'Failure 101' or ‘Intelligent Fast Failure’ courses at the university (first at the University of Houston, later at Penn State).

He had taught engineering students to unlearn years of practising risk aversion, stressing the connection between creativity & risk. He had encouraged them to realise that failure was essential in developing design skills & judgement.

In a nut shell, as I had understood it, ‘Intelligent Fast Failure’ was basically a fast learning process, using failure (results) as a springboard.

Instead of experimenting with only one project idea, students could have several project ideas to work on at the same time. If one would fail, they could modify or adjust it or quickly pick the next one to work on. This experimentation would accelerate the learning process, which would encourage the students to get through the failure results more quickly, before low confidence or low self esteem could set in.

As a result, the students could reach the knowledge acquisition curve more quickly, where they would be able to find out what would work & what would not work.

His principal premise in the book was this:

"No issue is more important to the engineer, or entrepreneur, than intelligent failure."

I had read the author’s books enthusiastically, especially during the early 90's, when I felt, as a mechanical engineer by training, I could relate readily to the author's teaching philosophy.

At that time, I also felt that the author's unique concept of experimenting with creativity, particularly in the field of engineering design, would empower me to go forward & experiment simultaneously with other aspects of my own chosen life pursuits - research, consultancy, training & development, coaching, networking, globe-trotting & personal hobbies.

I eventually moved on, with further inspirations from other authors/books, to establish a strategy consultancy business, run a newsletter as well as operate a small retail outlet in early 1992.

To this day, I still think that this is an excellent book about creativity & innovation in action.

I strongly recommend reading this book if you are serious about wanting to learn how to manage failure & to develop an appetite for risk in your life &/or your work.

The book, generally written in a light-hearted manner, is packed with true-to-life examples, personal cases, & experiences of innovators excelling in the art of innovation on an organisational, civic or personal level.

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