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APRIL 14, 2022

Fail Fast — Why fuck ups lead to success

Today's entrepreneurs are fighters. Giving up is not an option. Maybe you could become the new Mark Zuckerberg…

But you know what, fuck ups are part of your business story. And failure doesn't mean the end. It can even be the beginning of a great innovation. As with many things in life, timing is important. So the motto is:

Fail fast.

But what does it take to fail as quickly as possible before things get uncomfortable? 

Is it the right perception for your own stats and future trends? Is it the wealth of previous experience? Or can you only rely on your own feelings?

Mishaps, slip-ups and errors - I was sitting at a FuckUp Night where failure is celebrated. Why? I wanted to learn from it, because I am tired of pseudo-perfect success stories.

 
I`ve had a large grin on my face when a doer type was telling how he mucked up millions of dollars. And the crowd was applauding after a successful CEO admits how he suddenly had to start all over again. The applause is not just about his stand-up mentality. But also as a gratitude that he takes responsibility for his errors and prevents others from making wrong decisions. 
 
Mistakes are human and whoever wants to learn walking has to fall down. But also to get up again. 
 
And that's what it's about: fuck ups are part of your business story. And failure doesn't mean the end. It can even be the beginning of a great innovation. As with many things in life, timing is important. So the motto is:
 
Fail fast.

Failure as a new master plan

What is the right time for canceling a project? Is it advisable to continue working with the customer? And when do you stop the campaign? - questions about questions that arise when something goes wrong with a project.

If the right time is over, it doesn't just get annoying. But also expensive.

Let's be honest: today's entrepreneurs are fighters. Giving up is not an option.

Instead, something will be improved here and there. Just don't stop. Because you could become the next Mark Zuckerberg.

And in the end,the regrets will win - even though the world punishes you enough.

But what do you need to fail as quickly as possible before things get uncomfortable?

Is it the right perception  for your own stats and future trends? Is it the wealth of previous experience? Or can you only rely on your own feelings?

Fail Fast - a definition

Fail Fast stands for quick failure. If you are working on a project with your team, you shouldn't chat for a long time, but rather get quick feedback. Because only this makes it possible to uncover errors in an early phase of the process.

In this way you can see what value the performance of your activities actually has. Is it worth going on or do you need to try a new approach?

In short, this method is called “inspect & adapt”, which is nothing new at all. It is the principle of permanent improvement and implies that after each sprint it should be checked where you stand and what has been achieved so far.

After a solution-oriented lessons learned session it must be adapted. Whether successful or not. There is always room for improvement. 

But failing fast goes one step further: If a project starts badly or develops negatively, then don't wait too long. Find out what's wrong. In a quick but efficient analysis. If the project is unsuccessful, end it. Immediately.

Otherwise you are wasting time and money.

Really fail in practice

The practice usually looks like this: Entrepreneurs are terrified of failure. Mistakes are a disaster and in a hard contrast to success. Out of this fear develops a reluctance to take risks.

Today's CEOs prefer to take the safe path and don`t like to give up their control. Skills and responsibilities are not often passed on to others to avoid problems. And if they will do it someday, the fear of making mistakes is transferred to the employees. The consequence: They are not trying anything new and are afraid of negative reactions from their superiors.

A rethinking process is clearly required here: Mistakes are okay. They offer an opportunity for improvement and growth. This is how you should learn to deal with it. Better early than late.

But how can you quickly uncover mistakes?

You should definitely be able to analyze and evaluate data quickly to measure the overall performance of your recent activities.

Fast data is the name of the new trend in which data is transferred in real time via all relevant channels. This means quick feedback for your team. In this way you can assess risks directly, react immediately and make important decisions based on them. The best prerequisite for learning from failures, but also from successes.

Agile companies reflect on their actions and use new types of business intelligence systems to develop the full potential of a project. Or just to quit at the right time.

The team behind it is not pressured to complete the project quickly. Bye-bye strict deadlines. Because that's how quality suffers. Instead, employees are involved in every working step to identify errors quickly and avoid them in the future.

So man and machine go hand in hand here. But your experience and your intuition as a manager must be permanently present.

Burying your head in the sand is a thing of the past. Problems can only be resolved if their causes are uncovered - that is the principle behind “trial & error”. It is not just a question of experimentation. But about courage.

Implement simple and inexpensive prototypes - even if they are not perfect yet. Test your (minimally crappy) products - maybe even two different versions of them.

And learn from your mistakes.

The big ones show us how. The Facebook intern, who managed to paralyze the whole platform within a short period of time, was not kicked. Today he is one of the company's top programmers. Netflix hits the market with new features almost every day. But also pulls them back quickly if they are not good. They are not afraid that the users will get a 303 error page in front of their faces.

Fail almost. Learn almost. And improve faster.

The fear of making mistakes - is always present for you, right?

Yes, we live in a performance society where success counts. But does success only mean getting everything right in the first step? Isn't success much more a process to understand business courses and correctly assess their effects?

A process in which you sometimes act with courage and a willingness to experiment - and not always according to a strict plan that leaves little room for new approaches. No risk, no fun. Make mistakes. And stick with it.

It is our generation that can make a difference in dealing with mistakes. It's not about being reckless or making mistakes multiple times. It's about learning from mistakes and doing better next time.

How about a fuck up night in your company instead of the conventional after-work party with table football and beer. Face your fear of making mistakes. And talk openly about what went wrong. To make it better next time. Don't worry, you don't even have to listen without a beer in your hand.

Become a pioneer of the new spirit of society and de-stigmatize failure in our society. This will definitely not be a wrong decision.