Leadership/InnovationRisk Management

Fast Failure: How to Foster IT Innovation Quicker than Competitors

There’s a special point in a project, a point of no return at which all efforts to salvage the initiative are null and void. At that point, it is time to stop crying over spilled milk and to start thinking like an innovator. In an article for TechRepublic, Patrick Gray describes how the harrowing process of “fast failure” is your only avenue to exceptional innovation:

Perhaps the most insidious reaction to failure is allowing it to hang about like a decaying fish. At first it’s visible, and then it begins to stink until it’s intolerable to be around…In a misguided attempt to avoid hurt feelings or to move forward, failures that remain undiagnosed hang around like the metaphorical fish. Sometimes the failing effort will be allowed to continue well past its prime, expending valuable resources, since no one is willing to stop the effort and regroup.

Failure and Its Many Forms

Once a failure is admitted, its possible causes will need to be investigated, including:

  • Environmental factors
  • Incorrect resources
  • Inadequate technologies
  • Day-to-day activities gone awry
  • Godzilla on the loose again

The process of addressing failure is all too easily prone to ego battles and other byproducts of bruised dignity. The point, however, is to sail gracefully over the petty squabbles to face off with the root cause of failure, to convert a negative today into tomorrow’s positive, to meet the organization’s ultimate objective.

How to Fail Fast

Grays says that the process should take no longer than a matter of days, since resolution is not about solving every aspect of the problem, just the part that counts. Even before a “course correction” becomes necessary, you’ll want to foster a “fail fast” culture, one comprised of managers and staff who are immune to the turbulence of uncertainty and feel free to push boundaries without impunity.

Yes, if you want to “out-innovate your competition,” it’s going to take some guts, some degree of personal risk, and the ability to trust that your team will salvage tenfold what they lose in every failure.

Read the original article at: http://www.techrepublic.com/article/fast-failure-the-secret-to-fostering-more-it-innovation-than-your-competitors/

Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. He is an intern at Computer Aid Inc., pursuing his master's degree in communications at Penn State University.

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