I was quite surprised the first time that I heard someone challenge a group of people to “fail fast.” I, innocently, thought that the goal was to succeed – not fail, fast, slow or somewhere in the middle!
The concept, however, refers to getting ideas and concepts to the marketplace quickly. If they can be improved, let’s get user feedback and make improvements. If, however, they don’t catch on and the innovation is going to fail, let’s “fail fast” and get on to something else. That makes sense!
I’ve worked places where the mode of operation is along these lines:
READY, AIM, AIM, AIM, AIM, AIM, AIM, AIM, AIM, AIM……….
There is such a fear of failure that we never stopped aiming and actually pulled the trigger on new things.
READY, AIM, FIRE!
If we hit the bullseye – GREAT! If we get a good score, great! Let’s keep working to improve. If we miss the target completely, let’s go back to the drawing board.
I don’t think that “fail fast” means:
READY, FIRE, AIM
(I’ve worked there, too!) Don’t fire until you’ve aimed – but once you’ve aimed, don’t be afraid to fire.
This is good lesson to learn, but probably it is more true today due to the rapid pace of change in our time. I heard a speaker the other day say that based on the rate of technological progress and change occurring in our time, the next 100 years would have about 20,000 years of change in it!
There’s not time to “aim, aim, aim…” – go ahead and fire!
Even some companies that appear to be firing, are still lagging behind.
Case in point: How often do you hear companies touting their new iPhone app. They’re current, right? Keeping up with new technology to keep in touch with consumers and customers on the go, right? Did you know that the iPhone currently only has 20% of the smartphone market? 37.8% of smartphones are Blackberries. They, however are trending down and losing marketshare to the iPhone and others. Among the others, however, are the smartphones that use Android technology with a 26.9%, and growing, share of the smartphone market. (This is the number one smartphone technology currently.) A brand focusing only on iPhone apps is missing a lot of customers. If other apps are in the works, great. If not, they may be thinking that they are keeping up and aren’t aware of how far behind the times that they are.
I’d file that point under “READY.” Study, listen, read, learn what is going on – and be sure that you are in the know and informed.
From there, AIM and FIRE!