By Steve Moran

One of the more interesting conversations I got into at Senior Living 100 was about experiments that failed.

Over the last 12 years, I have attended something like 200 conferences, and very often presenters will talk about their new ideas — experiments they are trying — and nearly always with supreme confidence, as if the outcome of the experiment is predetermined, that success is preordained.

One of the greatest examples, I am comfortable talking about (because the speaker didn’t do the experiment, just talked about it): the now-failed, in a spectacular way, Theranos. It was going to revolutionize care. A few drops of blood would allow dozens to hundreds of tests at a fraction of the cost of current lab testing.

I was in awe, as was every other participant, because we could all see the benefits for the industry … for our residents.

We, of course, know today that it was a complete and utter failure, and that while I don’t believe it started out as a fraud, it turned into one, because Elizabeth Holmes and her partner, Sunny Balwani, simply could not admit defeat. I often wonder what entrepreneurs could learn from them if they were willing to have honest conversations with the world about where they went off the rails.

Senior Living Experiments

I made a list of about a dozen big experiments I remember leaders talking about as if they were done — deals that were going to revolutionize the industry that are no longer around. In some cases the evangelists for those ideas have faded off into the sunset, but other cases, the failed experiments and ideas just quietly disappeared, and the idea people are still around.

So Valuable …

It would be so valuable to the industry, so valuable to residents and team members, if leaders were willing to talk about those failures, why they failed, and the lessons that can be learned.

The problem is that we too often view failure as bad, when it is great — or at least great when it teaches us things. At Foresight we have had our share of failures …

  • We tried a job board. It didn’t work.
  • Our first — well, actually, first and second — social media hires were complete disasters. (I only write this because they are completely out of the industry.)
  • We tried creating a couple of different Facebook-like senior living communities that didn’t work.
  • We have published some articles that totally bombed, including one that was so terrible and so insulting that we had to remove it from the website.
  • We created a purpose-based giving community. It bombed.
  • Even today, we routinely post things on social media that go nowhere, even though we think they are cool.

Not all, but a number of them, cost money.

I Am Begging 

I am begging you to tell us your failure stories, to celebrate those failures, because those failures’ greatest value is the lessons learned. What are yours? We would love to help you tell them.