How Failure and Entrepreneurial Vision Fuel Success | Part 4: Failure is a Prompt to Check Your Premises

The key to benefitting from failure does not reside in failing. Failing is not a virtuous act. At best it is an unintended outcome of a mindful and purposeful action intended to succeed. At worst it is a reflection of incompetence or willful deception. The virtue of failure is in the recognition that reality is sending you a message to check your premises.

By briefly looking at the methodology of discovery via contrast and extension used by iconoclastic entrepreneur Walt Disney, we can see how new knowledge about the world can be gained from discovering and observing “failure.” Dissatisfaction with the current state can be an impetus for taking action to enhance the current or future state in a defined realm (such as a “family park”) and be used to solve the entrepreneurial challenge of how to create and deliver a better value proposition that customers prefer over the current “failed” offering. This methodology seems to be consistent across entrepreneurial iconoclasts like Bezos, Jobs, Gates, Musk, Branson, Schultz, etc., and is a fundamental aspect of entrepreneurial action. 

Opportunity arises from failure for those with the vision to leverage their imaginations to “see” failure and redefine success in the context of human capability, sentiment, and desire, and have the courage and capability to redefine and enhance human happiness and well-being.

Other Resources:

  • Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras, Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies
  • Michael E. Raynor, The Strategy Paradox: Why Committing to Success Leads To Failure (And What To Do About It)
  • Paul J.H. Schoemaker and Steven Krupp, “The Power of Asking Pivotal Questions,” MIT Sloan Management Review, Winter 2015.

© 2020, Barry L. Linetsky. All Rights Reserved. 

Barry Linetsky is a Partner with The Strategic Planning Group in Toronto, Canada, where he and his colleagues have been helping executives and owners define and align their business purpose with customer values since 1994. Barry is the author of the acclaimed book The Business of Walt Disney and the Nine Principles of His Success (Theme Park Press), and an Honorary Disney History Institute Historian. Barry is also a writer, photographer, researcher, analyst, and business strategy enabler. Read his blog and learn more at

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