The Fail Fund - Travis Robertson

The Fail Fund


Organizations need a system to encourage innovation. They need to succeed fast or fail fast. In this video, I share one of the ways to make this happen.

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Vickie Reply

What a fantastic idea! Combine that with never allowing anyone to say, “we’ve never done that before” or “we’ve always done it this way.” As an agile company, that’ll kill ya’.

I can never understand why someone (or how someone) can argue the point against something that’s almost a sure thing (or low risk) to maybe bring in more money. Sometimes LOTS of money.

It can be nice to be the boss!

    Travis Robertson Reply


    First, thank you so much for your insight. You’re spot on about the two “death statements” above. I hear it all the time in one form or another.

    I think people are afraid of change (even good change) because they risk being made irrelevant. They don’t care to evolve with the company for any number of reasons (tired, bored, comfortable, etc.).

    I love being the boss for that very reason. 🙂


Leon Widrich Reply

Travis, I very much enjoyed listening to your video here. First off, you have a great voice and I think I could have just sat here keeping listening to your words even if it was about gardening or whatever.

I totally agree with what you are saying there. It kind of reminds about 3M’s policy on this. They do have exactly something like that if I recall correctly from one of my marketing lectures, where employees can simply get both time and funds for a specific peroid, try out their idea and see how it goes.

Given that the pace at which things are being churned out is getting faster and faster, I feel you are absolutely right by saying that companies will be left behind if they don’t adopt the new lean principles which are emerging.

Really great stuff here, I will be back for sure.

Let me Buffer this great post!

    Travis Robertson Reply

    First, thank you for those immensely kind words about my voice! I laughed when you wrote that I could speak about gardening and you’d listen. 🙂

    Someone had mentioned to me that 3M had a policy similar to this. I think it’s brilliant. I want to compile a list of companies that have similar initiatives. I think it would be fascinating to see just how innovative it allows them to be.

    Many thanks, Leon! Appreciate your feedback!


Anonymous Reply

Fantastic idea, Travis. I think more companies need to be on board with this kind of mentality. The problem is that so many businesses fear failure that they don’t want to take on the risk of new ideas – even if it could pay off in dividends. I’m not sure having a dedicated fund will change this mentality, but I do think this is a great way to encourage innovation. I think there are companies out there that do similar things. I’ve heard of some that have a dedicated day each week for tossing around new ideas and choosing the one to move forward with.

The bottom line is that it’s all about mindset. If you want to propel your business forward, you have to be willing to test the waters and try new things. If you don’t, you’ll be hard-pressed to get your business to grow.

    Travis Robertson Reply

    Thanks, Laura! You’re right, it is definitely a mindset. I’m sure you would agree with me, though, that it takes more than just a mindset to make things happen. The “Fail Fund” or “Innovation Fund” or whatever a company wants to call it is really just a way for them to act on that mindset.

    I’ve heard companies express that they want innovation, but there is nothing tangible or concrete that allows for that to happen. This is just one of the ways to make sure that it happens and to give permission to people who might not otherwise believe they really have the power to act and to try and not worry about repercussions if the experiment doesn’t work out.

    I love the idea of doing this with time as well. In smaller companies, money may be a bit harder to come by. However, time is a resources that we can allocate toward innovation. Often, the best ideas cost little to no money anyway. Great point!

    It’s all about changing our attitude toward “failing.” Not succeeding is different from failing. There are things we try all the time that don’t succeed or turn out as we intended. However, if we learn and grow form them, we never really failed.

    As you wrote, it’s the only way to keep our companies growing. We must test and try and innovate! Thanks for sharing. Your insights are fantastic as always! 🙂

      Anonymous Reply

      I do agree – mindset only gets you so far. It helps to have a process in place or an environment that fosters experimentation and testing of new ideas. The Fail Fund (actually, I like Innovation Fund better) is a great way to help promote this idea.

      And thanks for the kind words – I appreciate it!

Cris Cohen Reply

Interesting idea. Most companies’ idea of a fail fund is someone’s salary. “Give it a shot. If it doesn’t work, we’ll just fire Steve.”

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