Among the many myths that corporate types have about startups (whether standalone or of the corporate variety) is that there is some kind of alchemy involved. Sort of “Steve Jobs arrives on a clamshell and the world is changed forever!”. They think growing new businesses requires some instinctive DNA that founders are born with and that other mere mortals will never possess.
A number of us have found that this simply isn’t the case, as Steve Blank recounted in a recent interview. Indeed, the disciplines that have emerged from the application of discovery driven growth methodologies are now widely recognized, taught and practiced. The core idea is that rather than creating an expensive, risky, plan for an uncertain venture, you break it into stages. At each stage, you identify and test assumptions, ideally at lowest possible cost and time. That lets you de-risk ventures and make an early exit if things aren’t turning out as you expected.
Instead of fearing failure, you can then change the question into “what is it worth to our organization to learn something?” Whatever the outcome, if you agreed that the answer was worth the investment, failure simply doesn’t enter into the picture.