mad in pursuit journal


Fast Failure System

fast failure system

On some projects you can plan your work, then work your plan. On other projects, it's like that old fighter's adage: "Everybody's got a plan till the first punch." This is the state of affairs with my video-in-process (Working title:"Great Dames Take Naps" or GDTN.) Every idea I can visualize crashes & burns in the execution. Therefore I'm implementing the Fast Failure System.

One of the most intriguing business books I ever read was called "Incredibly American."* A quality improvement team at AT&T set out to discover the meaning of quality to Americans (back in the 1990s, when the Japanese were kicking our ass).** In a nutshell, they discovered that the Japanese value Perfection and Americans, well, don't. Americans value Action, Failure, and Redemption. We learn by failing.

My Fast Failure System is a variation of what AT&T came up with. In technically difficult projects, only active experimentation works: Inspiration. A little paper and pencil work. Sit at the computer. Oh, sh*t, I can't make this work (or it looks like hell). But wait... what if I...? Oh, THAT looks cool! Maybe I'll build around THAT idea.

I guess people who make money in sales live by this lesson. Move fast. Keep dialing the phone. Try a different approach. Don't take things personally. They know how many cold calls it takes to make one sale.


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* Incredibly American: Releasing the Heart of Quality Incredibly American: Releasing the Heart of Quality by Marilyn R. Zuckerman and Lewis J. Hatala

** Before American manufacturers stopped caring about quality altogether and disappeared in a puff to China, Korea, and Taiwan.