Well actually it was originally a typo but then Yogi Berra style, it made complete sense.
Let me explain...
A week ago, we had an offsite at Evol8tion. Actually it was an offsite follow up to our previous offsite...so kind of like off-off-Broadway if you follow me.
One of the action items on the agenda was to review our latest iteration of what we call a cost-benefit evaluation for pilot programs. Over the last 5 years, we've conducted over 60 pilot programs with early stage startups and/or emerging technology platforms on behalf of our clients and without exception, it always comes back to one question: how do we know if we were successful?
In other words, an output (the world of test 'n learns with its partner in crime: hard measurement KPI's) versus an outcome (behavior change, change management, learnings, moving at the speed of startup etc).
So we developed a simple template to help our clients evaluate whether their experiments were 1) BIG L'S, 2) small l's, 3) small w's or 4) BIG W'S.
Today I'll focus on the 1st item: The Big L or BIG LOSS. The F word....FAILURE.
I won't bore you with the conditions, questions, criteria or checklist we use to determine one from the other (and besides, that's part of our secret sauce), but sufficed to say one thing rings true every time: how do we - corporations/big business/multinationals/blue chip brands - become more comfortable with not being perfect. In other words, failing!
Startups are all too used to failing. And when they do, they fail fast. And they learn fast. They adapt. They come back stronger than ever before. They pivot.
Brands...not so much.
Failure is never really failure when it's a means to an end. And that is really commensurate with the strategic recommendation that comes from a "BIG L" or failure, namely to discontinue.
You tried it out. It didn't work for you - your brand, your Business Unit, even your company. Perhaps the startup in question was just the wrong partner. Or perhaps you were. Perhaps your vertical just isn't suited for this approach. Or perhaps the specific emerging technology just isn't a good fit.
So you discontinue. You live to fight another day. And you do it with your head held high. With dignity. Respect. And most importantly, budget. You never bet the farm. You didn't put all your eggs in one basket. You never got burnt. And hopefully you did this way ahead of your fiercest rival or competitor.
Wait, that doesn't sound like a loss at all, does it?
This is the "discount" you receive for moving quickly, test and learning...to fail fast and more importantly, fail smart.
Whereas the premium you are used to paying ("Advertising the premium you pay for being unremarkable" - Seth Godin) is essentially an opportunity cost with a tight and shrinking budget and an opportunity lost in terms of sticking to the status quo; rapid prototyping, experimentation in digital innovation and ultimately well structured and calculated risk taking is a an opportunity gained where even the worst case scenario (the big "L") has a remarkable silver lining.
Innovation is quite binary if you think about it: either stuff works or it doesn't. And when it does, you "rinse and repeat" or "scale with success". And when it doesn't you "pivot" or "discontinue" - I mean, "discountinue."
And so the next time, you stick your neck out and don't exactly come out on top, instead of waiting for the guillotine to fall, pat yourself on the back for having taken another step towards a future which is a little less uncertain, scary and unknown.
In a world where the only constant is change, doesn't it make sense to invest in the future at a discount?