In an interview for MIT Sloan Mgt. Rev., Vol. 50, Spring 2009 at 67, Prof. Clayton Christensen warns that “93% of all innovations that have ultimately become successful started off in the wrong direction; the probability that you’ll get it right the first time out of the gate is very low.”
It may be that this finding – and how could he have come up with such a number, by the way – applies to innovations in products. Still, innovations in processes and approaches may be just as fragile.
Taken at face value, the sobering odds of initial failure would deter any general counsel from trying a new idea. If the odds are 9:1 against you, why embarrass yourself? But we learn by doing, and you can always change course if an initiative appears headed south. I still favor trying something new (See my post of Dec. 16, 2005: innovation with 7 references; and Oct. 29, 2006: creativity with 11 references.).