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Failing should be easy

May 14, 2009

failSounds kind of crazy doesn’t it?  Why would you want failing to be easy?  There’s actually a pretty simple explanation.

Often when people try something, they feel like they are putting their reputation on the line.  If their idea doesn’t work out, it reflects poorly on them, and so they have a vested interest in making sure the idea at least appears to be successful.  You  can sum it up by saying that in general, if one of your ideas results in failure, it makes you look like a failure.

So what are the side effects of that kind of attitude?  Well for starters nobody is willing to try anything that they aren’t almost completely certain will be a success.  Is that good?  You could argue that it is, only ideas with a very high likelihood of success will have time spent on them.  That’s good right?  What about all of the ideas that could have turned out to be phenomenal successes but were never tried because their success was not virtually guaranteed.  Worse yet, what about all of the ideas that never even got voiced because of the fear of having them labeled as stupid or impossible.

So, even if you only try the ideas that you think have a very high likelihood of success, how to you make sure you get to the really successful ones as quickly as possible?  You make it easy to fail.  That is to say that it’s easy to evaluate a projects success, and easy to determine that it is not living up to expectation, and easy to shut it down and move on to the next idea.  There should be no personal feeling of failure attached to this happening, there should only be learning from why it didn’t work out.

Once this has been achieved, people will be more comfortable voicing ideas that they previously would have kept to themselves, more ideas will get tried out, and only truly successful projects will continue to live on, because there will no longer be any advantage to making a project only appear to be successful.

Look around and it won’t be long before you see something that should have been allowed to fail but wasn’t.

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From → Development, Point2

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