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If You're Going to Fail, Fail Small, Grasshopper...

My friend, Tim Sackett, has a post/video about Failure Being The New Black.  His hypothesis is that we've all been fed a load of crap when it comes to failure.  His point is that all the new age thinking that failure is good in careers/business is total BS - and we ought to be more focused on success, not failure.

I'm going to cut down the middle on this one.  Is failure OK?  I think it is at times. Fd company

Is big failure OK?  No - because you should have done some homework and seen it coming.

The goal should be designing change in your company in a way that makes failure as small as possible.  To do that, you have to be disciplined in your approach to experimentation.

There are a lot of buzzwords out there that I could use here - Agile, Lean, Scrum, Kanban - just to name a few.  I'm an expert in none of those - but I think we can learn a lot from broad principles pulled from some of these development methodologies.

Let's say you're going to change how recruiting is delivered at your company.  You could put a big project plan together, slides, etc - and go on an approval tour in your company to show how this change is going to rock everyone's world.

You might believe it - but it's 50/50 at best that it's going to work.  If you fail, that's a big failure and not OK - and you're just proving Tim's point.

But if you simply carve out 5 open jobs, create a hypothesis of what you think will happen if you treat those a different way, then conduct an experiment and measure the results before deciding to try and sell the change globally - you're actually using broad Agile/Lean/Scrum/Kanban principles.

It's called Minimum Viable Product - which is designed to test your assumption before you spend a lot of money/time and potentially fail spectacularly.  Let's say there are 10 sub-strategies related to your big recruiting change.  Why not test one of those strategies on 5 jobs and see what happens, then evaluate it in an objective fashion?

Small failure is OK, big failure is not.  It sounds like a cliche, but failing fast - and cheap - is the way to go.  It's also the way to prove ideas for big change as part of a bigger plan.

If you fail spectacularly, you probably suck.  You should have broken it up and experienced the lighter pain waaaaaay earlier.

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