National Geographic : 2013 Sep
132 national geographic • september 2013 can eventually give rise to positive outcomes. The business world, especially the high-tech realm with its rapid-fire start-ups and burnouts, already understands the value of negative results, if they are low-cost and noncatastrophic. To encourage entrepreneurship, the Netherlands- based ABN AMRO Bank started an Institute of Brilliant Failures. Eli Lilly and Company, the pharmaceutical giant, began throwing “R&D- focused outcome celebrations”—failure par- ties—two decades ago to honor data gleaned from trials for drugs that didn’t work. (Some 90 percent of all such trials fail.) Some foundations have even begun requiring grantees to report failures as well as successes. Business leaders often seek nuts-and-bolts lessons from failures, but they benefit from bigger-picture truths as well. A Harvard Busi- ness School professor was so struck by an iconic, century-old exploration failure that she authored a case study about it—to teach her M.B.A. stu- dents about leadership. Historian Nancy Koehn reckons she’s taught the story of Irish-born po- lar explorer Ernest Shackleton at least a hundred times. His 1914-16 expedition to cross Antarctica was doomed when his ship, the Endurance, be- came trapped in the ice. Shackleton’s goal quickly shifted from exploration to ensuring a safe return home for himself and his crew. underwater CaveS Deep, dark, and hard to navigate, they attract the bravest of explorers and yet give them pause. Prudence can outweigh the lure of potential success. Assessing this cave in Florida, divers Kenny Broad (at left) and Tom Morris have agreed, for now, to leave it “relatively unexplored.” MaRk loNG Hannah Bloch wrote about Easter Island archaeology in the July 2012 issue.