Innovation, Failure & Sustainability
The man who never made a mistake never made anything.
Sustainability requires innovation, innovation implies risk, risk inevitably means a degree of failure, right?
The problem with sustainability, unlike, say, social networking or wireless payments, is the huge number of people waiting gleefully for those failures. Otherwise how would the plethora of idiot-reactionary newspaper columnists, bloggers and on-line comment trolls sustain their life’s “work”?
I get particularly worried when sustainability projects with a large degree of public funding start getting hyped up. This conflates the two obsessions of those one-eyed smart-alecs and knuckle-draggers – the environmental movement and public expenditure. If the project goes down, it’s like Christmas and their birthday rolled into one. And unfortunately the resulting sneer-fest permeates out into the general public.
I know of at least three publicly backed projects which have been heavily sold by charismatic figures, appearing weekly in the local press, whose progress has suddenly gone uncharacteristically quiet. And it worries me that if they fail the fallout will make those with hands on the levers of power fear more bad publicity and stick to the same old same old.
So, while we must try new things, must allow ourselves room to fail and learn from our mistakes, some prudent modesty is in order until the approach/technology/whatever is proven in practice. Then we’ll show ’em…