Monday, September 6, 2010

Failure is an option - more about Bob and Lisa

On Sunday I shared some thoughts about Kapost, WinExtra, and Microsoft Bob. As I was writing my Kapost post in response to Steven Hodson's original post, I kept on thinking of someone other than Bob.

I kept on thinking about Lisa.

No, Lisa wasn't Bob's girlfriend - Lisa is a over a decade older than Bob, after all. But I kept on thinking about how people perceive Lisa to be a failure, even though Lisa directly led to the Macintosh - arguably the most important computer in history (and yes, I rank the Macintosh in front of the IBM PC in that regard).

So I began wondering if anyone had compiled a list of so-called failures that included both the Apple Lisa and Microsoft Bob - and sure enough, Miguel Carrasco came up with such a list back in 2006. The list not only included Bob and Lisa, but also included their uncle Alto (the Xerox Alto), Lisa's cousin NeXT, Lisa's little brother Newton, Bob's little brother ME, and various other notorious creations from several different computer companies.

But I hope that everyone who read Carrasco's post continued on to the end:

What do all of these stories have in common? Yes they were all mistakes (at the time), but almost all of them paved the way for some of the largest success's in computing history. Sometimes for the same company, sometimes for other companies. The lesson here is persistence, determination, and perseverance.

I recently had occasion to re-examine the video of Gene Kranz with the late Travis Clark (a video that I shared over a year ago in a post in my Empoprise-IE Inland Empire blog). Kranz, of course, gained his fame within the NASA of the 1960s and 1970s. NASA, then and now, engages in extremely complex tasks, and the outcome of those tasks can sometimes be deadly - something that prompted Kranz's famous phrase, "Failure is not an option." Kranz's words certainly ring true when addressing life and death situations, but as many within both Apple and Microsoft know, failure can be the best thing that can happen to you, since it can sometimes spur you on to great success.
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