Monday, August 1, 2016

'Fail Fast', a catchphrase that can fail you

Mantras and catch-phrases dominate the management lexicon these days. Consultants, thought leaders and experts use it to condense ideas and popularize them. Business leaders pick it up and go gung-ho with it in their organizations. Before one knows it, catch-phrases start getting applied in literal sense, overshadowing common sense at times... until the next catchphrase arrives.

One of such catchphrase is 'Fail Fast' used in combination with 'Fail Cheap', 'Succeed Faster' etc. However, its 'Fail Fast' that grabs attention the most. Its important to understand the circumstances 'Fail Fast' should not be applied.
  • When perseverance is key, keep this catchphrase at bay. For example, while struggling with product-market fit, its tempting to drop ideas/projects if customer feedback is not very encouraging. Or when crossing the chasm, where a slow adoption rate may tempt to shelve the product. Or when working on innovation, which is not a linear journey but a winding road filled with conflicts and struggles.
  • When working relationships are to be built. Imagine a company hires an individual/agency to partner on a new initiative. Things do not go well first six months. What does the company do? Fail the partner! And face the same issues all over again. When both the company and the partner are on a journey to something new, its important to communicate, empathize and invest in making the relationship work.
But their are circumstances where 'Fail Fast' catchphrase is relevant. 
  • When experiments are required for problem solving. Or when iterations are required in Agile development. In these circumstances Fail Fast is to Learn Fast.
  • When its required to galvanize a risk averse management to take on new initiatives without the fear of making mistakes. Fail Fast is to Bounce Back Fast for the management when mistakes are made.

No comments:

Post a Comment