by Bill Mckee, Xerox Public Relations

I had a great opportunity this week to listen to innovators talk about how they innovate and how they fail.

“Fail fast and early,” says Steve Hoover, CEO of PARC, A Xerox Company.  Steve took the stage at Chelsea Pier in New York City last week at Fast Company’s Innovation Uncensored 2012 conference.  Steve spoke as part of a panel of executives from a diverse group of companies including Chipotle, Razorfish and Gatorade…not quite the group you would expect a Xerox subsidiary to be part of.

Steve Hoover, PARC CEO

However the discussion was fascinating as the four talked about how to create a culture of innovation.  By chance or design-  it fell to PARC’s Steve Hoover to talk about risk taking in this environment – an environment today that he says means every company is a tech company.  And that means some interesting combinations—PARC is building on its 40 year legacy to expand relationships with partners that you would never have expected.

Steve talked a lot about how you measure acceptable risk and why should there be risk at all. “If you are not failing…you are not trying to innovate, you need to push your whole organization and let them know it is all right to fail.

You need to empower your employees to take those risks, fail, admit your mistakes and start over again.”

He added that doing nothing has its own risks. Every business needs to invest in the future and you need to know what your competition knows. He says if you don’t take risks, your competitors will.

Bill Mckee is responsible for Innovation PR for Xerox.