Where is Your Pilot Plant?

To improve you must learn

Unfortunately, you only learn when you mess things up.  You only learn how to ride a bike by falling off one.  If you didn’t fall off, then you didn’t learn (I guess you already knew how to ride it).

If you try something new and it works first time, fresh out of the box then congratulations; but you only reinforced what you already knew to be true  — call me a pedant but that is not learning.

It is an interesting philosophical point with a hard tangible implication:

You need a pilot plant

If you want to learn you need an environment where you can mess up safely:

If you don’t have a test bed or innovation centre or trial room or — call it what you will — learning will be a very expensive and short-lived experience.

Where is your pilot plant?

If you enjoyed this post click here to have the next delivered to your inbox

Pilot Plant Experiment

Image by Carlos Henrique

Read another opinion


  1. James,
    I’d also ask where firms are piloting in public and getting their customers involved. If they don’t do that then they’re missing out an essential feedback and learning loop.


  2. maz iqbal says:

    Hello James,

    One way to look at human-beings is to look upon them as exquisite learners – who learn in specific environments and in specific ways. You have clearly spelled out the environment – one which provides ample room, one which is safe, on in which it is OK to ‘tinker’.

    So how do folks actually learn? We learn most and best through copying / modelling / trying this out. In this game of natural learning (as natural to us as water is to fish) we can experience frustration or delight. What we do not experience is failure. Failure is a label that others (usually authoritarian others) teach us. Or as I say to my children when the whole point of the exercise is to practice-experiment-fail then failure is actually success. And one builds on that success by questioning the failure – embracing it, looking into it deeply, asking questions like “what if …?”

    Which is you think about it put the whole question of knowledge acquisition through books, through the classroom, in academic environments into question. The only knowledge that counts is that which is incorporated in your body – muscle learning/memory.

    All the best

  3. James,

    Messing up safely is fine… and preferred. But getting feedback about how you’re messing up and how to improve is a huge plus… a huge advantage,


Speak Your Mind