The Guardian this weekend by Oliver Burkeman about the GfK Custom Research North America facility in Michigan that is widely known as the Museum of Failed Products. It has relics including Pepsi AM Cola, A Touch of Yoghurt shampoo by Clairol, caffeinated beer and a mint range that inadvertently looked like crack. Burkeman has written a new book The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking.
An short snippet from the article: "You might have assumed that any consumer product manufacturer worthy of
the name would have its own such collection – a carefully stewarded
resource to help it avoid making errors its rivals had already made. Yet
the executives who arrive every week at Sherry's door are evidence of
how rarely this happens. Product developers are so focused on their next
hoped-for success – so unwilling to invest time or energy thinking
about their industry's past failures – that they only belatedly realise
how much they need to access GfK's collection. Most surprising of all is
that many of the designers who have found their way to the museum have
come there to examine – or been surprised to discover – products that
their own companies had created, then abandoned. They were apparently so
averse to dwelling on the unpleasant business of failure that they had
neglected even to keep samples of their own disasters."
And another: "Another problem with our reluctance to think about or analyse failure –
whether our own or other people's – is that it leads to an utterly
distorted picture of the causes of success."
Read the full article here