Success is 99% Failure

An old buddy of mine forwarded a link to this blog post the other day. It is worth a read if your holidays are in need of a fail fast injection (say, your cookies didn’t turn out, your ham is dry, or your present for someone you love — the one you thought was going to be a big hit — fell flat). It includes a great video by Honda that I mentioned back in early 2009. Secret 3 in the post may ring true:

Create it, launch it, learn from it, and fail fast.

The first design or prototype you put out will always be the worst it will ever be. Version 1.0 is going to suck. 2.0 is going to be much much better, but without first putting it out there, you’ll never know. So fail fast, learn from your users, and use survey’s to gather feedback of their experiences with your product or service.

Here’s hoping your holidays — mine are now at version 39.0 — are an immediate success.

Hipolito, The Writer.

I’m not sure what the proper psychological definition is, but there is clearly a phenomenon in which you are so attuned to something — a word, a number, an idea — that you consistently see it everywhere. A gentle obsession. Pattern recognition. Déjà vu, all over again.

As the fail fast concept has been this white whale of mine (only since, approximately, February 1998), I have seen the idea in many places, and there have also been a great many of you who have generously shared your own references to this theme with me.

Last weekend, I was flipping through the endless enumeration of cable channels in an idle moment and landed on Amélie, the great JP Jeunet film of 2001. Here’s the dialog from the café scene I happened to catch:

Joseph: Cram it, failure!
Hipolito, The Writer: Failed writer, failed life… I love the word “fail.” Failure is human destiny.
Joseph: It’s gasbag time!
Hipolito, The Writer: Failure teaches us that life is but a draft, a long rehearsal for a show that will never play.
Joseph: I bet he stole that.
Hipolito, The Writer: I do have some original ideas, but people always steal them.
Hipolito, The Writer: Same as your women.
Joseph: Meaning?
Hipolito, The Writer: You’d better get used to it.

Outside, the first real snow of the year is falling. Pandora is playing some randomly beautiful song. Another sip of coffee, naturally, as I work on my draft life, my rehearsal, my destiny.