Fail fast, fail cheap
is a mantra often connected with startups, or any sort of fresh in the market entrepreneur.
I believe the idea behind this is to move quickly, experiment with new ideas and processes before you invest heavily into them. I had to learn that way of thinking too, and I try to apply it to everything I do with one important twist.
The twist is to realize that failure is not a goal, the goal is to be prepared for the possibility of failure. And to be prepared to learn my lesson. If you truly believe in something, sometimes you have an urge to play it all in.
The second part I find important is to lower your expectations and invest appropriately with realistic outcomes in mind.
For example blog creation
Imagine you are starting a brand new blog, because you have this big urge to be heard. You have fantastic ideas for the first couple of posts. Then you start it big, rent a domain, web hosting. Maybe you spend a month playing with graphic style or even hire someone to do it professionally for you. You create your first post, Then hire someone to proofread it and you rewrite it three times to make it perfect.
Then the big moment comes – you publish it. The whole 12 people read it the first week, your mom included.
After all this effort that might be a tough crash with reality. And you would most possibly not have the energy to continue, you might find yourself paralyzed.
Let’s get back to “fail fast, fail cheap”
The version I like more is a bit different. Learn fast, learn cheap. What I like about that mantra is the emphasis on LEARN. The desired outcome of our mistakes is to get better, right?
And it does not have to be necessarily connected just to failures. Things that don’t work. I also tend to connect it with challenges like getting better at written English. This blog is a great example – is it perfect? Hell no. But I hope it is a bit better with every post, every small bit I am working on.
So, what about those two failures of mine I kindly advertised in the heading?
Failure no. 1
Weekly notes. It was this post, where I advertised that I want to post weekly notes from now on – yeah, it was the first and the last one I did. I quickly realized that I can note down some interesting stuff and random shoutouts during my weeks, but the overhead to refine it into a post with some qualities is just too big for me for now. I am also still finding the answer to some key questions – like – What will be the majority of blog content? Will it become more of a lifestyle diary of mine with ideas and thoughts braindump? Or will I add more and more technical content over time?
I don’t know.
And I have the luxury to experiment and try. I have the luxury to do new things and get rid of them quickly if those don’t work for me or you guys. This is a pure-for-joy project right now, so it does not matter.
It took me some effort to mature my personality to the point that I can consciously stop the “weekly” notes project without guilt. Although I still love the idea and I might find a better platform for that with less overhead involved.
Failure no. 2
I love to try new things at work.
I want to be an active part of our community and help to shape our culture. Since the start of the year, I came with two ideas on how to contribute to our culture of craftsmanship.
The cheaper one was to build on certain momentum established by the advent of code – I know that some of my colleagues including myself participated. And enjoyed. So I created a dedicated slack channel for my colleagues called “the problem of the month”. The idea was to choose and post some interesting kata each month. I expected that some of my colleagues will solve it, we would exchange our ideas and code. Long story short – I did not work. Almost 15 colleagues joined the channel, but that was their last action. After 15 days the channel was still stale with no activity at all.
I invested roughly an hour of my time into that, it did not work but was worth the effort. Learn fast, learn cheap, right?
To be honest, the second idea to organize the coding dojo was a real success, but that is the story for another time (I will write about that very soon).
What should be your take-home message?
I don’t feel like giving any advice, so I will try to paraphrase what I try to suggest myself regularly: Don’t be afraid of experimenting. Don’t be afraid of trying new things. But, invest a reasonable amount of your effort, energy, and money. Be honest with yourself, evaluate what works and what does not on the regular basis. Learn fast and cheap.
Thanks for reading. As usual, every feedback is appreciated, just message me over LinkedIn, Instagram or leave me a comment.
Programmer, tech enthusiast, and storyteller. Don’t hesitate to contact me 🙂