Double Your Rate of Failure

I think a lot about success.  The nature of my job demands that I be aware of the definition of success on every project.  (Believe me, easier said than done.)  I read about other people’s ideas about success.  I am certainly awash in what society views as success.  I have definite ideas about what success looks like for me personally. 

Over the past couple of weeks, the development team at Sommet has been all but chanting the mantra “Fail Faster”.  We’re trying to increase efficiency, communication and transparency (as I’m sure all teams are trying to do) all at once, and this refrain keeps coming up.  If we fail early and often, we will get to success faster, right?

The famous quote by Thomas Watson, the founder of IBM, goes:

It’s quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure… You’re thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn’t at all.

For many years, I have been extremely lucky.  I have been able to achieve some really amazing things by failing only a few times.  (They’ve been doozies, though trust me.)  As a result, and in violation of Mr. Watson’s maxim, I do indeed tend to think of failure as the enemy-or at least the opposite-of success. 

I could ramble on this topic for some time, so let me just cut to the chase.  Every single time you get it wrong, you are that much closer to getting it right. It doesn’t matter if you are a business owner, a stay at home parent, or the guy working at the snack bar.  Analyze those failures, make small changes, and try it again.*

Thanks to Alex, Jim, Kristin, James, Evan, Dan, Elijah, Steve, Joey, Matt and Bryan for letting me learn from you guys every day.  It’s an honor and a pleasure to work with you all.

*(These are precisely the same steps as troubleshooting any problem…duh.)

One Reply to “Double Your Rate of Failure”

  1. Thanks for the high praise, Dave! Failing fast has become a mantra for me in many cases because if I don’t keep repeating it to myself, I will slide back into the all-too-comfortable-but-so-detrimental mindset of “failure denial”….

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