I’m not a fan of the advice “fail fast.” Here’s an example of why.
Suprisingly – or not – it’s happened again. In a nutshell, a PR firm broke an unwritten rule and by writing about it. And got fired for it.
Here’s what’s going on:
- BBC: Duke Nukem PR firm dropped following online review row
- Ad Age: Redner Group Loses Biggest Client Over Tweet
- Econsultancy: PR firms need to get hip to the new rules for reviews
This was less an example of “fail fast” than of “fail badly“.
If their process was set up so that a single ill-thought tweet could bring down the whole agency-client relationship, the process probably needed some additional checks and balances.
But also, no one ever recommended making fatal mistakes quickly, like, “It’s my first day on the new job, I think I’ll show up drunk,” or “We got married an hour ago, time to have an affair.” You shouldn’t make that kind of mistake fast, slow, or at all.
I think Seth has great insight on this. Fail fast, and fail often, but don’t fail so hard that you get kicked out of the game. These guys clearly failed too hard.
Forgive me if I am misreading your comments on this: My conception of the “failing fast” advice has little or nothing to do with these examples you highlight (PR problems/mistakes). It has to do with product features or strategy. That is, it is better to launch a minimum viable product quickly and if it fails, learn from that, then release another version. That is in opposition to failing slowly: working in stealth mode for 2 years building a product no one wants.
The failure in fail fast has more to do with testing a hypothesis (X customer segment is willing to pay for X feature). Fail quickly by learning that X customer won’t pay for X feature so shift your strategy quickly to Y customer segment or Y feature.
The examples you mention aren’t so much failing fast, they are simply mistakes and bad PR moves.
That’s right Tom – fail fast is advice that should be applied to product design.
The problem is that fail fast is provided as bad advice regarding marketing and communications. Watch this video for an example. http://www.socialnomics.net/2011/03/11/digital-marketing-fail-forward-fail-fast-fail-better/
Al – I think that the advice you’re giving here misses the mark…
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