If you are working in innovation, you probably have already heard that failing fast is the key to success. But, seriously, do you find failure easy to deal with?

I don’t…

So, it’s time to forget about failure and start thinking about experiment instead!

 

WHY FAILING FAST IS IMPORTANT

Fact: 70% of all innovation projects are going to fail.

So the key to success is to fail fast to be successful faster. Eliminate the “bad ideas” as soon as possible in order to find the right one early. And by that, to avoid unnecessary investment, time, energy, you would have spent on those “bad ideas”. On top of that, in term of success and dealing with the competition, we also know that speed wins.

 

WHY DEALING WITH FAILURE IS SO HARD

Ok, so, that’s the theory. But if you have ever been involved in an innovation project, you would probably say that “it is f…ing hard to deal with failure” .

And you are right.

Why? Because it is never easy to stay emotionless on a project. Most of the time you put your guts and you heart in the project. You spend hours / days / nights making the solution right. And quickly, the project becomes your baby and a part of yourself.

So when something goes wrong, it’s not about the project anymore, it’s about you. Each failure ask you to reconsider who you are, what your limits are, your skills, etc. And it badly hurts your self esteem.

“OMG, I am useless”, “I am the worst person in the world”, “I am not good at this”.

 

THE SHIFT BETWEEN FAILURE AND EXPERIMENT

Hey, wait a minute. Everything doesn’t have to be black and white. And a test doesn’t necessarily end up with Passed or not Passed.

It’s time to consider life as an experiment!

If we make the comparison with the scientific world, what does it take to do a valid experiment:

  • start with an hypothesis
  • build a solution
  • define your test protocol
  • test it
  • analyse the results and draw conclusions
  • then iterate and move to the next experiment

Easy! What to retain from that? The outcome of an experiment should always be new learnings.  And with new knowledge you will be stronger for the next step of the project.

« OMG, what if we fail? » VS « Great! We are going to learn new stuff!!! »

Failure VS new learnings. It is a much more positive attitude, isn’t it?

 

STAY OPEN TO EXPERIMENT

To be open to experiment asks a certain attitude on a daily basis. A couple of advice:

  • integrate people in your project and work collaboratively so it won’t be just « your baby » anymore
  • share and test your idea / your work / your design as soon as possible to get feedback
  • be open to feedback, do not just expect an approval
  • be aware that people can be rude, and that’s ok
  • keep asking why, this is how you will get your learnings

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

We used to experiment all the time when we were kids, let’s go back to that feeling!

This can obviously be applied to a company strategy, a business model, a project or a new design. But there is no reason to keep it in the office. Starting some guitar lessons? A knitting project? A bike race? Why not using the same approach on a personal level?

 

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1 Comment

  1. David Jonnes
    27 May 2015 at 17 h 25 min — Reply

    Nice. A lot of what you say relates to how you as a product or Ux professional engage with your work. And that’s really important. The other side of it is how you position what it is you do. We have to be prepared to learn and if you come to the table with that mindset and others understand that you don’t claim to have all the answers. Really helpful.

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