Fail fast, fail cheap, fail smrt

Failure is an option that is finally getting explored in Ireland. It’s now starting to trickle through that trying something and failing is not the sin it once was. Many have been saying for years how in Silicon Valley people are trusted almost more if they have previously done something and failed. It’s not the failure per se but it’s the experience gained from work and being at the coal face. In Silicon Valley it’s “hard luck, what are you doing next?”. In Ireland it’s been a case of “Oh that guy failed, should you really do business with him?” It still exists too. Lots of companies merged or were acquired in recent years to save face.

There’s a definite culture thing at play here. Good old Catholic guilt probably contributes to this. Communities via the pulpit have always been encouraged to knock anyone that rises about their “station”. Possibly tied to that is the excuse about bankruptcy laws in Ireland. I’m not convinced strict bankruptcy laws are holding people back.

If struck off it’s hard to start new business yet there are plenty who never go as far as being struck off. Plenty of people have risen above being struck off and have done well for themselves. If bankruptcy laws are holding you back are you not creative enough or are you too risk averse?

It seems like years ago but at a conference in March Dylan Collins amongst others talked about embracing failures and mistakes and learning from them. “We have to be proud of our mistakes – It’s how we learn.”

Any fans of James Burke and his Connections programmes will know of the way discoveries throughout history were more to do with lots of trials and their errors moreso than eureka moments. A “good” failure allows the lessons learned to be applied elsewhere and lots of these combined becomes a new discovery.

Just like the scammers swarmed into seo and social media though, now I wonder will the acceptance of failure see the spirit of it twisted to: hard luck, what grant are you going to try and nobble next?

Failure when you and others/the collective learns is important. Selfish failure does not help anyone, it encourages skewing of data, hiding results and outright lying. Going back to companies merging, many that invest in companies including organisations like Enterprise Ireland and VCs have plenty of companies on their books that are probably already dead but to save face, are not publicly wound down.

I do wonder has this culture of fear of failure not only slowed our progress and experimenting but also created an even worse scenario where you can have worse failures because of the level of secrecy that happens. And what of all the things learned in them. A secret failure means others will have to trudge through the same stuff too. Can we have a Wikileaks for this stuff?

Cheers Homer.

2 Responses to “Fail fast, fail cheap, fail smrt”

  1. Mary says:

    I’ve been in Ireland for three years. I’ve never yet heard anyone knocked back from the pulpit. But I’ve heard a lot of put-downs in the pub and the churchyard, from ordinary people, not from clergy. Seems to me that it’s time Irish people started taking responsibility for their own attitudes, instead of blaming the English, the church, the EU – basically anything except taking responsibility themselves.

    And if you really want to change the attitude towards failure, start with childhood. Get a dictionary, learn what “bold” really means (brave, strong and courageous) and stop telling kids off for being like that!

  2. I like that Mary. I also think cute is a compliment. In the Irish sense along with the American sense.

    I’ve been cute enough to apply for every entitlement and hand out designated for Autism and Special Needs. “well for ye” says the begrudging crowd. “yep, well for us” says I as I pay for Tutors and educational supports & training that support my kids intervention, potential and quality of life.
    And when my first application failed, I tried again with the information I gained from the first attempt, which I got by asking for it.

    So many in my position don’t have the supports they are eligible for, because they are afraid of being turned down – or failing!

    And the process has been good practice for me , as I head out into the real world as a Mumpreneur, ready to try anything

    Happy new year Mulley xx