“People waste time and money in projects they should just stop, simply because they don’t want to say ‘I failed’. In order to ‘fail small,’ you must stop in good time.” I was struck by this statement as I read this article (http://bit.ly/1bDzkrm) published on Devex website. Not that this is really a surprise to me. Indeed many of us begin projects with good intentions and it gets to a point where we are aware that things are not going as planned. Of course it is common that ideas or plans are diverted through a different course other than the intended approach. We also face challenges, some expected, others unforeseen, and we try to deal with them appropriately.
The blow I got from the above statement, however, is its forthrightness, and the bitter truth that we mostly deny. So this is not to say that we should give up easily on projects. But rather, we need to be sensitive and know when things must change or when they must painfully come to an end. When a project or an element of a project is just not working, it is bound to fail. In that case, it is better to “fail fast”. The earlier it fails the more productive it is to ensuring lesson learning and ultimate project success.
Another part of the article I could not agree more with is our reaction to challenge. “Conformity vs. Diversity”. Diversity is useful but also conformity is helpful. Opposing views are not intended to cause harm. And even if they are, such views sometimes make us think, learn and grow. We are humans. We are fallible. And, we need to acknowledge when we go wrong.
In borrowing the words of Aleem Walji, Director of World Bank Innovation Labs, I would say the rule of thumb is “fail fast, small and forward”.