Adonis Diaries

Do you Know when you failed? Even when evryone is applauding your success?

Posted on: April 13, 2011

When almost everyone is applauding your success, can you face the other perspective that you also have failed?  Is not being ready to accepting failure, in one phase of the process, and recognizing your failure worth learning the art of “How to fail?” 

Do you think that the end product of your project is the main criteria for success?  What about all the near-misses of accidents, “minor” incidents, and errors during the projects?  Should accidents and erroprs committed during the project to be ignored, forgotten, and hidden under the carpet, once you are declared a success story?

Have you considered the health and safety of end-users when designing your product?  Have you tried to use your product and have a good feel of the risks involved in the application of the products?  Have you asked other people, not in the design team, to test and evaluate the performance of the product, mainly the rate of errors, misuse, and potential risks to health and safety?

It is not that “if you don’t plan for the eventual failure that it won’t happen”.  Recurring problems and accidents in project procedures are resolved by “redesigning the product” and not by repairing what are considered minor glitches.  We mostly learn in the redesign phases of what we failed to initially consider.  Thus, it is previous failures that are fundamental to improving our knowledge and methodical behavior.

It is worth describing failure in general terms, before describing the project, the procedures, the performance criteria, the constraints, and what should be tested and evaluated for a product to be considered working successfully?

For example, Seth published a post on How to fail.  Here we go: “All of us fail. Successful people fail often, and, worth noting, learn more from that failure than everyone else.

Two habits that don’t help:

  • Getting good at avoiding blame and casting doubt
  • Not signing up for visible and important projects

While it may seem like these two choices increase your chances for survival or even promotion, in fact they merely insulate you from worthwhile failures.

I think it’s worth noting that my definition of failure does not include being unlucky enough to be involved in a project where random external events kept you from succeeding. That’s the cost of showing up, not the definition of failure.

Identifying these random events, of course, is part of the art of doing ever better. Many of the things we’d like to blame as being out of our control are in fact avoidable or can be planned around.”

Seth published a sample of six random ideas that will help you fail better, more often and with an inevitably positive upside:

  1. Whenever possible, take on specific projects.
  2. Make detailed promises about what success looks like and when it will occur.
  3. Engage others in your projects. If you fail, they should be involved and know that they will fail with you.
  4. Be really clear about what the true risks are. Ignore the vivid, unlikely and ultimately non-fatal risks that take so much of our focus away.
  5. Concentrate your energy and will on the elements of the project that you have influence on, ignore external events that you can’t avoid or change.
  6. When you fail (and you will) be clear about it, call it by name and outline specifically what you learned so you won’t make the same mistake twice. People who blame others for failure will never be good at failing, because they’ve never done it.”

Now, I am wondering, if you cannot figure out what is the product or project that Seth is talking about, can you remember the guidelines for not failing?  What is random event? Can we have example of what is considered a random event so that we get a handle on the guidelines?

Seth terminates his post by stating: “If that list frightened you, you might be getting to the nub of the matter. If that list feels like the sort of thing you’d like your freelancers, employees or even bosses to adopt, then perhaps it’s resonating as a plan going forward for you.”

Let me give you a homework for tomorrow:  Try to remember the guidlines for avoiding failure and whatever you recollect from this article.

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April 2011

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