Once upon a time, Google Glass (the glasses with a wrap-around computer and screen that hovered above the eye) was a media darling and certain to usher in a new era of constant web access.
And then it wasn't.
It disappeared faster than a bad Fall sitcom, leaving me to wonder why the only place I ever saw a pair were on my doctor as he conducted my appointments, complete with a note-taker on the other side of the connection (so many...jokes...can't pick...just one).
Google Glass has resurfaced again, announced yesterday as Google Glass Enterprise Edition. In other words, not for the consumer but to be used within a professional capacity--think warehouses and factories to help improve productivity, safety, and the like.
A recent report indicates that by 2025, 14.4 million American workers will be wearing smart glasses (which look like a standard pair of safety glasses).
By any account, the first version failed so badly because Google, even by their own admission, understood neither the user nor the relevant use.
Undaunted, Google's Alphabet X division (the center of experimentation for the company), quietly set to work on the next generation, even as pundits had given Glass up for shattered.
This week, they announced version 2.0, with Astro Teller, the chief of the experimental X division, stating:
"We're not going to prejudge exactly what (Glass's) path is--we'll focus on the places that are actually getting value out of it and go through the journey with them, being open-minded about where it's going to go."
In one liberating sentence, Teller nailed three tenets for learning from failure:
1. Don't jump to conclusions from initial failure.
Despite the lack of success the first go around, Teller's team did not jump to doomsday or misinformed conclusions. Nor should you when your project goes awry.
They quietly went back to work, being careful to objectively learn from what went wrong and then moving forward with poise. Case in point, even though they have a line of sight to a robust market, ready user, and more focused, relevant use now, Teller's team is being careful not to jump to the conclusion that they've nailed it this time.
2. Follow the value.
Experiment. Stay close to the target user and see what they find of value. Build on it. Reiterate. Repeat.
Failure is often the result of not truly understanding what the user wants. Listen carefully and let the users articulated and unarticulated wants and needs drive the path forward.
3. Keep an open mind.
Be prepared to bend like a reed, or change course altogether. Failure helps you figure out what won't work, but requires you to flex to what will. So pivot as needed.
Here's hoping that Glass 2.0 becomes what was once envisioned. I'm betting Google will get it right this time--a success born from beautiful failure.
After all, beauty is in the eye of the Glassholder.