Fail Fast or avoid failure?

Over on her blog, CamMi Pham commented of the need to avoid failure rather than “failing fast”.

This reminds me of the 1980s, back then failure was something to be avoided and something you might be punished for. I don’t see that to be the case any more and there are many examples where failure has been an essential component in leading to bigger and better ventures, e.g. Richard Branson, Alan Sugar or James Dyson.

Cammi points out that you can avoid failure by doing your research and learning from others. Also that failure has a cost and that might be that your overall project takes longer. Her last point is “Measure and test everything”.

I think this is the whole point of the fail fast philosophy, which is to measure and test. If you can build simple business models that can be tested or use computer designs rather than a physical object then you can run lots of tests and determine what the best course of action might be.

Learning from others mistakes is great but also quite difficult. The best way to learn from mistakes is to make them yourself. By seeing the mistake in context you can see how it relates to your specific goal rather than the goal of another. I think it also encourages you to take risks and to paraphrase Ford, to make motor cars rather than faster horses.

I’m also a big fan of research but finding what is relevant and applicable to your circumstances can again be tricky and time consuming. I spend a lot of time looking at both old and new technologies and techniques to see how they can be applied in my situation. However, at some point an experiment has to be done to see if it will work for you. You have to do!

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