Fail early and Fail fast

Failure, or the fear of failure, can be disastrous. If we are so afraid to fail we never begin, the disaster may be larger than failure itself. I’m sure you are aware that most of the great successes are built on attempts that failed. It could be said that failure is as important as success.

Astro Teller, the leader of Google’s “X” program, says they try to make a program fail before they try to make it succeed. In an article for Forbes and in a Ted Talk, Teller says that if they can make a program fail early on, much time and money is saved. Plus, spin offs from the program can become successes.

Astrid reviews in September’s Parking Today Ed Catmull’s exciting and thoughtful book Creativity, Inc. In it, Catmull stresses how important mistakes and failure are to the success of any venture. As Astrid writes in the review:

Catmull invites us to be introspective and to change our perception.  Mistakes are a necessary evil.  If we are in the arena as Teddy Roosevelt said, mistakes will be made.  Failure is painful but how we feel about failure doesn’t have to be painful.  “We need to think about failure differently. … failure, when approached properly, can be opportunity for growth.”  So as Andrew Stanton, creator of Finding Nemo and other films at Pixar says, “fail early and fail fast” and “be wrong as fast as you can.”

Just how many times have we let a failing employee bog us down. How many times have we let a program drag on and on, hoping for success but knowing in our collective guts that it was a nonstarter? But think about the bits of fairy dust that came from those failures, the couple of good ideas that came from a bad hire, the lessons learned, the new directions.

Remember these wise words – fail early and fail fast.


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