The success of failure

Yesterday I received a pioneer update newsletter from the Impossible Project. They admit that the Gen 2.0 film does not perform as they had expected and thank the pioneers for the feedback.

I have tested the Gen 2.0 film myself, also with mixed feelings. Some of the images are a clear improvement, some others... oh, well! That being said, during the last months I have been trying to finish my stock of older generations of film. So almost anything would be more reliable than that! Not good to do evaluations when biased.

In any case, what I wanted to say is that I really liked the email from Impossible. In a world where we try to cover our mistakes, a simple and honest message feels like fresh wind. They explain how they were exited, they tried, they failed, they learned.. and they are ready again for new tests!

I work as an IT Project Manager and I know how hard is to live up to the demands of fast early deliveries vs the risk of not having certain factors under control, in combination sometimes with doses of enthusiasm from both "producers" and "consumers". My today's take away: when possible, do not kill the eagerness, try and fail a little more, and when you fail.. acknowledge it, learn from it, and do not fear to go public! It can even serve as good publicity! 

For the curious, this is the message from Impossible:

Dear Impossible Pioneers,

Over a month ago we released a Pioneer version of our newest Gen 2.0 color film. We were really excited about a breakthrough in our chemistry that hugely improved on color performance. For the first time we saw real, deep reds! Everyone at Impossible was ready to move this new chemistry into production and enter the next chapter of Impossible film.

As always, before going ahead we went through your initial feedback and results. Looking closer it turned out that the film didn't react well to certain conditions and uses, and sometimes it performed significantly worse than the results we saw in our own early tests! So we decided to go back to the drawing board. 

This week Stephen and the R&D team finished running something called a design of experiments (DOE). That basically means creating up to 120 different recipes of paste, with small adjustments to different parts of the recipe to study how this can improve the film behavior. 

We’ve picked the winning candidate from the 120 contenders to develop further. There is a Pioneer production run of 600 film with this recipe scheduled, and the packs will be available for you to shoot, test, and tell us what you think next week.

This last run proved just how much we need your feedback to make our film better, so we're working on a way to make it easier for you to give feedback as well. It’ll be a simple tool to upload your photos, comments and shooting conditions, and will go live with this release. 

I would also like to thank you all for your thoughts on our current pioneer program. Over fifty of you took the time to offer thoughtful and honest feedback, all of which will be taken on board as we look to make improvements over the coming months.


Oskar Smolokowski