A Story Of Failure Inspires Innovation

“Making a game is like making a movie while inventing the camera at the same time,” Rob Pardo, lead designer for Activision’s Blizzard Entertainment, told Peter Guber.

In his hit-dominated business, the possibility of a billion-dollar upside is very seductive, but failure also comes with the territory.   And therein lay Rob’s conundrum.

Rather than risk failure to innovate, many designers wanted to play it safe in order to see their months and years of work actually make it to the marketplace.  “I had to prove to them that their work wouldn’t be wasted, that we always learn from their efforts and what we pay forward is their knowledge and experience. Failure is part and parcel of how you succeed as a great game designer.”

wow_logo_rgbHe told them this through a story of his own public, painful, multimillion dollar failure in which the sequel to the hugely successful game, Diablo, was a miserable failure and they ultimately closed down the company.  But he realized that some of the Diablo employees had taken from their failures core creative ideas that they were eager to apply to new games.  These were the people he went forward with to chart the new company’s future.

His story delivered the message – not to be risk adverse.  And if the new game, World of Warcraft, was destined to be one of those casualties, then so be it – as long as they hold back nothing in their efforts to innovate.

The team got it and delivered the innovation to create World of Warcraft, which became one of the fastest-selling pc games of all time.



blog-telltowin-linkTo validate the power of telling purposeful stories, Guber includes in this book a remarkably diverse number of ‘voices’ – master tellers with whom he’s shared experiences. They include YouTube founder Chad Hurley, NBA champion Pat Riley, clothing designer Norma Kamali, “Mission to Mars” scientist Gentry Lee, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank, former South African president Nelson Mandela, magician David Copperfield, film director Steven Spielberg, novelist Nora Roberts, rock legend Gene Simmons, and physician and author Deepak Chopra.
After listening to this extraordinary mix of voices, you’ll know how to craft, deliver – and own – a story that is truly compelling, one capable of turning others into viral advocates for your goal.


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