11/6/09

FAIL OFTEN. FAIL EARLY. FAIL CHEAP.

Rapidly evolving technologies and market adjustments have thrust media into states of nearly perpetual alteration that require agile and swift responses to gain benefits and defend the firm from outside forces.

Managers who have been used to stable environments and well conceived plans are often reticent to move to seize opportunities with quick and decisive action based on incomplete information and knowledge. The turbulent contemporary environment, however, require leaders to rapidly evaluate the potential of new communication opportunities and to take risks in a highly uncertain setting.

This is disturbing to managers who are used to employing well developed and elegant strategies that require significant investment and commitment. Declining to test opportunities until a clear roadmap is produced, however, takes away flexibility and the ability to rapidly change with contemporary developments.

While preserving the core activities of media businesses, managers need to simultaneously look for emerging opportunities that can be pursued, communities that can been served, and experiences that can be delivered. It is important to get in quick and inexpensively, to build on small successes, and to abandon initiatives if success proves elusive.

It is better to fail often, fail early, and fail cheap than to avoid risky moves, lose potentially rewarding opportunities, and forgo learning from innovative initiatives.

In the current tumultuous environment, failure has become a form of research and development. Try things; drop those that don't take you somewhere interesting; document what you learn from each unsuccessful initiative; move on to something new. What you learn from unsuccessful efforts is usually more important that what you from success.

The only real failure in the rapidly changing world of media is doing nothing and hoping things will get better on their own,

3 comments:

Dr Sajal Kabiraj said...

Sir, failing often and early definitely is a cheaper alternative for attaining success in emerging media markets like India which is still struggling to covert customers from the conservative cable network to the DTH (set top box) revolution. New emerging models in media have often failed to attract the Indian consumer psyche because people in India are price conscious (often own two television sets in metros, and subscribing to DTH means that they need to pay twice as more) and also they do not believe in variable pricing options and patterns. Media models which work in first world countries may not necessarily work in third world countries like India. The need is to evolve and build community centric media models which would be adapted by the consensus of a particular group of people and then to expand and connect the grid to regional / national levels. So, its better to try early, fail early and learn early and all this would help us evolve a holistic media model for the emerging economies.

andy said...

The fail often mantra is frequently voiced when working with Agile development. However, everybody involved must keep in mind that there is another cost beyond the initial outlay. The fail often approach trains a way of thinking that drives and assumption of disposal. "This is likely to fail so I should sacrifice quality until I know it will work." In essence everything we produce is developed as a proof of concept.

As long as we all accept and understand that this is how we are choosing to operate then all is dandy. When one party assumes a level of rigor that is not part of the equation then the system stresses.

This article http://andrewchenblog.com/2009/11/25/product-design-debt-versus-technical-debt/ does a good job of outlining the cost of fail often if there is not an associated focus on build quality into the successes.

Ron Domino said...

I just read your diatribe against journalism in the CSM (http://tinyurl.com/r7jyf3 - you're welcome for me providing another avenue for consumers to find your work. It provided no forum for inquiry, so I arrived here) and you left me dying to know the answer to one very simple question: what is your worth? That is, how much money do you collect per year for the work you publish? What is it's value. In addition to your personal opinions on the matter, you could provide your audience with a great deal more insight by breaking down how your own personal journalistic endeavors create revenue and how they justify the money you use to put food on your own plate.
I eagerly await the follow-up piece that will surely illustrate to other journalists how they also can generate better stories that produce better revenue for their respective publications.