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When someone mentions the word, “Museum”, what is the first thing which comes to mind? At first, you may think of a massive building aligned with historical artifacts or scientific exhibitions which captivate your mind
When someone mentions the word, “Museum”, what is the first thing which comes to mind? At first, you may think of a massive building aligned with historical artifacts or scientific exhibitions which captivate your mind and enrich your intellects. Or perhaps your initial thoughts lead you down memory lane to those interactive museums you enjoyed visiting on school field trips. How ever you tend to define a museum, these attractions are usually crafted to highlight “significance” “grandeur” and “excellence”.
But what about a museum which strips all that away and only focuses on failures? That is exactly what Dr. Samuel West of Helsingborg, Sweden has accomplished with his revolutionary Museum of Failure. Since the permanent display opened on June 7, 2017, the museum has come to house over 70 failed products and services from around the world. The concept behind this one-of-a-kind museum was sparked upon Dr. West’s visit to The Museum of Broken Relationships. Upon realizing such out-of-the-box exhibitions existed, Dr. West decided to open his own unique museum, highlighting the product failures that name brand companies have attempted to keep under lock and key.
Every company has at least one flop: that one product they confidently backed, believing it to be the next big thing. However, when the time came for the customer to speak, the reviews echoed the tone of dissatisfaction. When this occurs, most companies choose to sweep the mistake under the rug and act as if the whole incident never occurred. This is what The Museum of Failure hopes to eliminate. It was always the desire of Dr. West to create a place where failures could be embraced and in turn inspire companies to learn from their past mistakes. In his mind, learning, is the only way to turn failure into success.
Each of the products and services highlighted in his museum tell a specific story with incredible lessons which should be embraced by companies:
Straying from Tradition:
In many cases, change can be good. However, other times, the enactment of the saying, “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” is highly advisable. The leaders of the soda industry, Coca-Cola discovered this when then they decided it was time to alter the iconic Coke taste everyone knows and loves. Known as Coke II or the New Coke, this altered formula was introduced into the market with hopes that it would successfully compete with diet-sodas and Pepsi. However, the overwhelmingly negative response from consumers proved Coca-Cola had made a mistake in trying to change their signature drink. For the good of the company, this new coke was discontinued in 2002.
Brand Extension Gone Wrong:
Everyone craves a piece of the action when a new sensation hits the market. This was especially true when frozen dinners became the wave of the future. But while everyone was trying to come up with the best way to package their savory dinner sensations, some companies should have stayed away. One of which was Colgate. It was the desire of the company to keep their name in front of consumers and encourage them to brush their teeth after dinner. However, as can be imagined, most people associated Colgate with the taste of toothpaste making them less likely to risk serving up the company’s frozen dinners. Because this expansion left a lot to be desired, the Colgate frozen dinner has been utilized as key example that brands should be cautious when choosing to break their mold and take on a new section of the consumer market.
Just Plain… Weird:
While some products fail due to poor quality, others fail because they are “unsettling”. That is how many people have described the Rejuvenique Facial Mask. This cream-colored contraption was said to provide your face with the same benefits as doing 8 crunches a second would provide for your stomach. This rejuvenating phenomenon was executed by sending electrical impulses to 12 facial zones and repeating the cycle 3-4 for times. The results? Perfectly toned skin. While the concept may seem quite appealing, the disturbing design of the mask made consumers shy away from this product. Aside from the overall look of the mask, most people were also hesitant about having their face shocked with electrical currents.
These are just a few of the products which Dr. West has creatively incorporated into his world of letdowns and disappointments. While it could potentially be perceived that this museum is utilized as a tool for humiliating companies for their past mishaps, nothing could be further from the truth. In a world focusing primarily on achieving success and where a large fraction of business literature is centered around the positive aspects of achieving that success, failures are often seen as ruinous and something of which to be ashamed. However, as Dr. West often points out when discussing his museum, failure is the key to future success. Companies whose products have not met with the desired results should not feel ashamed, but rather should examine the reason behind that failure so it can be avoided in the future. If failures are constantly swept under the rug, the same patterns are destined to reoccur.
The same is true for us as individuals. We should never view our failures as a reflection of our inabilities or weakness, but rather as a tool to help build character, strengthen our wisdom and assist us in growing. Finding ourselves in a failing situation is never easy; however, it is from those times that we learn the directions we need to take. Just as Dr. West desires to assist companies to embrace their past product failures, we too need to accept our letdowns and move forward with the optimistic perspective that past knowledge will give us the wisdom to achieve the success we so desire.