The art of failing fine, according to Rahul Lindberg Sen Head of UX and Research at Volvo Labs
Rahul Lindberg Sen was employed as designer number 20-something at Spotify. Prior to that he developed award winning apps and experiences for Nike and Nike+ while at R/GA in New York. Now he works at Volvo Cars, as Head of of UX and Research for a small team called Product Labs, which is deeply involved in the long term transformation of the car manufacturer into a fast paced tech company.
At Sime November 13th he will give a talk on “Embracing Failure thoughtfully – what we can learn from the Indian art of jugaad.”
–Failing thoughtfully follows certain tried and tested principles. You should never fail sloppily, it´s about creating spaces and processes that allows you to fail thoughtfully, he says.
With his background from consumer brands and fast paced digital companies he has experienced many different cultures. In his present role at Volvo he helps building a culture that embraces agile methods of constant exploration, experimentation and incubation, which implies learning through failure while navigating towards an unknown future. In his talk he will share insights from his background as well as from the road he is now on.
–I will describe some principles of embracing failure in a thoughtful way. But remember, failure itself is not what we strive for. It’s the learnings, and how quickly we can act upon them that is important, he concludes.
For sure it’s a huge difference between a fast growing software unicorn like Spotify and a more traditional industrial company like Volvo Cars. At Spotify you can go to market with a new app release every week and constantly fix and improve the over all product under ways. The car is far more complex, and it´s the second most expensive thing most people ever buy (after a home) and takes years just to go from from first concept to reality.
-Volvo as a brand has an iconic status of safety, that is deeply rooted but is now trying to find new ways to stretch that brand into the future. Spotify on the other hand has a highly data informed playful brand that brings music creators and listeners together from experiences.
So how might we fail safely?
–The general aim is to set up safe spaces, like product labs, where it is ok to try new things quickly, launch and fail faster, thereby speeding up the overall innovation process. Our customers should never pay for our short sightedness or carelessness. The experiences we launch should have proven value early on in the process, before asking for our customers consideration in the market place.
The car industry has a long tradition of working with concept labs and rigorous testing, but now – as we are entering a digitally driven world of AI and self driving cars, VR, 3D printing, new means of transport and brand new competitors – we need to be able to explore new ways of transacting with the digital world continuously, and we need to do it fast. And often first.
–From our CEO and all across the board Volvo´s leadership is committed to transform Volvo into a more digitally enabled company. That means there are many talented people within the company working on the progress, exploring new ways of making things while leveraging data and insights
And that’s where Volvos Labs comes in?
–We are a small, highly curious team within a growing digital organization. We help parts of Volvo to explore and experiment with new products, processes and services for our future horizons. As a result we hope we would bring about a shift in organizational mindset – to one where failure is encouraged early on, learning is shared and the best experiences for our customers are brought to life in a rapidly changing world.
What is Jugaad?
–It is a an Indian, or Hindu, word for street smart innovation – with frugal resources, applying inventive “out of the box” thinking to every day problems. A jugged philosophy can be very useful in development and design processes, you will hear more of it in my presentation!
Rahul was born and grew up in India, but left the country in 2004. Over the past decade he has been working in India, Sweden, USA, France and Germany for companies like HP, Microsoft, Nike, Spotify, Nokia and Proctor and Gamble. He has a background in theatre and interior architecture and holds a Masters Degree in Interaction Design.
As a maker Rahul is passionate about building visionary products and teams. He is constantly hungry to build groups that can create first versions of things that did not exist yet! As a leader he also enjoys making the process of work as fun and joyful as possible for his teams and colleagues. He is excited by the balance between creating high performing teams innovation. Rahul lives with his wife and two kids in Liljeholmen just south of Stockholm, is a romantic, a prankster and loves a good boil of ramen.
Last byt not least he is a highly appreciated and inspirational keynote speaker.
3 takeaways to remember
- In order to fail we need to create safe spaces where we can fail thoughtfully
- We need an agile innovation process that connects strategically to the decision making tree
- We need to share learning quickly and be able to affect the right decisions based on them. It’s the learnings we are after.