A Note From the Front Lines


This won’t take long, but it struck me enough that I snuck my laptop out of my back during a conference session to share something with you. Earlier today I read one of the writing and publishing blogs that I follow, that talked about (among other things) not being afraid to try new things and not being afraid to fail.

At the same time, Google and Microsoft are sitting on a stage in front of me telling their entire industry that you must learn to FAIL FAST AND MOVE ON.

This is quite a step from the days when I was at school, when failure was very much not an option. What’s going on? Suddenly it’s fine to fail, so long as you recognise quickly that it is a failure and carry on to something else. There seems to be the beginning of a sea-change in attitude.


3 responses »

  1. Weird. I didn’t think this was new. But then I did design at uni, which is all about failing and trying again until you make something better… and then I worked for Dyson for 7 years. James has that quote on the wall, and PR about how many failed prototypes it took to design the first dyson. Perhaps the idea of failure being a good learning experience is just moving from the design world out into the wider consciousness?

    • I think there was quite a long period – certainly in the telco market (and military) – where failure was not seen as acceptable. If it happened, it was hushed up for the most part. There are a few exceptions, but they are very much exceptions. In part it may be because the larger legacy companies don’t have the flexibility to ‘fail fast’ so they don’t want to fail at all.

  2. I have come to believe that failure is integral to learning. And the test of a learning environment (I am a teacher / trainer) is whether you feel happy to fail there, whether you get the feedback you need in order to improve and whether you are motivated to carry on having a go!

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