My guest on the Innovation Storytellers Show this week is someone who’s turned understanding and exhibiting failures into an art form. Dr. Samuel West is a licensed clinical psychologist keen on the intersection of happiness, work, and cultural perceptions of failure.

Dr. West’s journey from treating clinical issues like depression to exploring organizational psychology led him to an intriguing discovery: the crucial role of failure in fostering innovation and creativity. His work, especially his teachings at Lund University on positive psychology and creativity, culminates in creating a fascinating project—the Museum of Failure. This traveling exhibition, which I had the pleasure of experiencing first-hand in Los Angeles, showcases failures from the tech industry and beyond, including memorable flops like Pepsi’s Clear cola and Microsoft’s Zune.

In today’s episode, Samuel and I explore the many layers of failure—from its inevitability in pursuing innovation to its potential as a catalyst for significant breakthroughs. We discuss how rebranding failures as experiments can change our perspective and lessen the sting of setbacks, making innovation less agonizing and more fruitful.

Tune in as we dissect the lessons housed within the Museum of Failure and uncover why continuing to experiment, even in the face of apparent failure, is vital for sustained innovation in an ever-evolving world.

Name: Dr. Samuel West
Title: Founder & Curator
Company: Museum of Failure
Linkedin | Website | Museum of Failure |

Dr. Samuel West’s work and research is driven by curiosity and a playful experimental approach. Since founding the Museum of Failure, Samuel has become the leading expert on helping teams and organizations understand the role of failure for innovation and progress, improve the acceptance of failure, and appreciate the benefits of psychological safety. He educates and inspires with the fascinating stories of the artifacts at the Museum of Failure.

He is a licensed clinical psychologist who when practicing specialized in cognitive behavioral therapy and treated depression, anxieties, relationship problems etc. He later became obsessed with the psychology of happiness, in particular happiness related to work and the complex relationship between happiness and affluence. Samuel spent 5 years at Lund University teaching and doing research. He taught courses on positive psychology, creativity, organizational science, and various clinical courses. His PhD in organizational psychology focuses on how workplace playfulness boosts innovation.