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Gains, Pains, And Failing to Succeed

By John Matthew Simon

“Fail faster to succeed sooner,” said David Schonthal, a professor of innovation and entrepreneurship at the Kellogg School of Management, on a chilly winter Saturday as he quoted David Kelley, the founder of the award-winning design firm IDEO where Schonthal is also a business designer.

For a group of graduate students in need of caffeine, this notion of accepting failure as a means to advance themselves and their ideas’ was and remains truly terrifying and exciting. Why so?

Well, for a contingent of determined individuals looking to soon apply what they are learning at Northwestern in established and start-up organizations, the buzzworthy axiom of embracing failure as a means to succeed runs counter to what has enabled them to get to where they are today.

However, when you dig down deep into what has gotten each of us to this program you reveal a solution oriented work ethic that is much like the Business Model Canvas that Schonthal unveiled in his presentation on entrepreneurship.

The canvas enables those utilizing it to create a clear business model by breaking it down into 9 key segments, such as the value proposition of the business, and the customer segments the business intends to reach. The BMC deciphers what pains the business will solve for the customer and/or the gains that will be achieved for that very customer through the organization’s value proposition.

Schonthal stated “do not judge your customer” and “question everything.” Everyone sees and hears the world differently, so in order to find patterns that reinforce our outlook, i.e. our value proposition, we must remain “truly curious.”