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?
So, it’s time to forget about failure and start thinking about experiment instead!
WHY FAILING FAST IS IMPORTANT
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
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?