“Think big, act small, fail fast; learn rapidly” -Mary and Tom Poppendieck, Lean Software Development
Originally a four part quote focused on software development, the “fail fast” part is gaining traction among startups. Although many have an opinion as to its merits, I haven’t seen a reasoning for its ability to spread. Here then are some reasons it would be popular, regardless of its merit:
- With the economy where it is, the probability of failure will be higher, and this increases the (perfectly rational) fear of failure. As a result, rewarding failure is a nice psychological judo move, and it encourages more people to start a company knowing the odds.
- The developer driven startups will tend toward analysis paralysis; encouraging failure is a cure for this. (”Ready Fire Aim” versus “Ready Aim Aim Aim”)
- In step with the increasing rate of change, the lean software development methodologies have gained adoption over more traditional linear methodologies. With more developer driven startups, its natural to apply a developer credo to the business planning; hence the adoption of Eric Ries’ Lean Startup methodology.
- “Fail fast” implicitly assumes the only alternative is to “fail slow”. While not accurate, this makes failing fast appear to be the better option.