Good Things Sometimes Come to Companies That Try But Fail

Good things (sometimes) come to companies that try but fail

Remember New Coke? After launching the new formula based on rave reviews in taste tests, it flopped and was described as “the marketing blunder of the century”. But Coke recovered to even greater consumer loyalty and describes the experiment as a shining example of “taking intelligent risks”.

For a more recent example of a New-Coke-like move, refer to Netflix. In July 2011 the company announced it was splitting its DVD and streaming video businesses into separate services. Subscribers created such an uproar that by the second week in October the company had totally reversed its decision. Whether the company can recover from the stumble is yet to be seen.

Taking control of a bad situation, whatever the cause, can help reduce potential fallout. R.W. Johnson, former CEO of Johnson & Johnson, said in 1954 that “Failure is our most important product” – and this philosophy has served them well. Witness their outstanding management of the unfortunate events in the Tylenol panic of 1982. It will likewise be interesting to see how Research in Motion, the maker of Blackberry smartphones, manages the bad press from their recent service outages.

After seemingly unrecoverable errors or bad luck, a corporate mea culpa can sometimes become the stuff of legends.