Is 'Fail Fast' Code For 'Don't Take Risks?' - InformationWeek

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Is 'Fail Fast' Code For 'Don't Take Risks?'
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Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
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1/9/2014 | 3:30:46 PM
Re: Too broad a brush
Some may argue that Facebook takes too many risks. They have posters around campus that read, "Move fast and break things." Regardless, innovation requires risk, and Facebook has been very innovative.
ChrisMurphy
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ChrisMurphy,
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1/8/2014 | 2:12:08 PM
Re: Too broad a brush
Netflix is an interesting example -- it was only in 2011 when the exec team proposed splitting the streaming and DVD business, with the big bet on streaming. They were pilloried for that, and they backed off the split. But it stuck with its big, public, long-term bet on streaming, and it proved right.
TerryB
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TerryB,
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1/8/2014 | 1:03:13 PM
Re: Too broad a brush
As we see them now, no question you are right. The value of hindsight. The question is whether they could have kept Apple from becoming Apple. Apple didn't really invent much of any single technology in the iPhone, just did a great job of putting it all together and convincing people they had to have one.

I submit Apple had much less to risk at time, not like Mac was going to dethrone Windows. Risk is harder to take at the top, which Blackberry was at time.
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
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1/8/2014 | 12:09:53 PM
Re: Too broad a brush
Many people would argue BlackBerry is a poster child for not taking enough risks. It waited too long, too often.
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
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1/7/2014 | 6:43:27 PM
Generational divide
I wonder how the 'fail fast' message plays for Millennials vs. Boomers vs. Gen X workers. The meme for Millennials is that they lack perseverance and the ability to focus for any length of time on a project. So, is telling a younger worker to fail fast essentially giving permission to throw in the towel prematurely? Conversely, is it something  that Boomers will ever feel comfortable with?

Fail fast seems like a Gen X thing.
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
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1/7/2014 | 4:18:45 PM
Re: The pressure to fail quickly and quietly
I suspect much of the enthusiasm for failure in the VC community comes when other people's money is at stake.
TerryB
IW Pick
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
1/7/2014 | 1:20:26 PM
Too broad a brush
So much of this discussion depends on exactly what you are trying to accomplish. If you are implementing a new ERP system for your company, failing quickly or slowly is not an acceptable option. If you have implemented a new customer self service extranet portal that sales really thought customers would like but no one uses, failure is certainly an option. And no disgrace either.

The really tough ones are the new business models you take a chance on. Did Amazon really know cloud storage would work? Did Netflix really know people would change the way they consume media? Those are the things that impress me the most.

Look at Blackberry now. When should they quit trying to reinvent themselves and when should they just pack it in and fail? Now that's a tough decision.
RobPreston
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RobPreston,
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1/7/2014 | 1:03:39 PM
Re: The pressure to fail quickly and quietly
Project portfolio management, like stock portfolio management, requires managers to constantly weed out the underperformers. It's among the hardest decisions, knowing when to pull the plug, especially for projects that looked so promising at the beginning.
Shane M. O'Neill
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Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
1/7/2014 | 12:50:56 PM
The pressure to fail quickly and quietly
Nothing's guaranteed, even when IT groups have done all the due dilligence they can on a project. To IT managers and CIOs out there: Do you feel pressure to fail quickly and discreetly (and of course cheaply) if it looks like a project isn't working out? What steps do you take early on to avoid failure?


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