Innovation, exnovation and intelligent failure

Hartley, Jean and Knell, Laurence (2022). Innovation, exnovation and intelligent failure. Public Money and Management, 42(1) pp. 40–48.



Innovation and failure in public services deserve more attention in the literature because failure is often closely linked to innovation due to multiple stakeholders, risk and uncertain outcomes. Some failures can be very valuable—they are intelligent failures and they create opportunities for deep learning and improvement if skilfully handled. Some innovations may not be fit for purpose after some time, constituting a type of failure, and may need to be removed through exnovation. This article argues that intelligent failure and exnovation are two concepts which enrich the analysis and practice of public innovation failures and are essential to understanding innovation more generally.

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