More fast failure

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:


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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

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