Wednesday, February 20, 2013

ASQ Influential Voices: Fail Faster!

In his blog this month, ASQ CEO, Paul Borawski writes about risk taking and the impact of failure within organizations.

Just recently, a colleague shared with me a personal motto of his: "fail faster".  I love this because it expresses so much.  Failing faster implies that risk taking is okay and even encouraged.  Failure is a good thing, as long as it helps us learn.  In fact, the quicker we fail, the quicker we learn.  The most important thing is that we're taking immediate and continuous action towards our goals.

An entire software development methodology, Agile, was developed around this concept.  It's based on iterative development where users are afforded early and continual access to the product.  Initial failures can be discovered and remedied in order to create a better end product.  Compare this to the more traditional "waterfall" approach, where the product is delivered all at once with the hope that requirements were perfectly solicited, documented, and executed.

As change leaders, risk management is part of our job.  Very few projects are perfectly conceived from the outset - we're going to encounter unforeseen obstacles along the way.  If we understand and accept this, we can build systems that encourage experimentation, risk taking, and iterative progress.  By learning quickly from the early, small failures, we deliver a better solution for customers in the end.  Let's foster a culture that is fun, fast, and responsive.

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