Is failure good or bad?

In an Agile, iterative product development approach, we talk about embracing failure. To be clear, we do not want to fail to deliver as we want to ace that part. To enable this, we want to probe ideas and solutions so that the delivery does not fail, but this will only happen if we have minor failures to generate learning through the delivery process.

An organisation’s culture can strongly dictate if failure is a word they will entertain. I’ve also found that while organisations in the US are more likely to embrace failure, they can more readily reject the idea in the UK. 

This week, I was reminded of this while working with Scrum Masters at their Community of Practice event. While they were frustrated by the reluctance of the organisation to embrace failure, I pointed out that if they reframed it to learning quickly, they were more likely to get traction. 

Fail fast is a great slogan, but it can be scary for those not yet coming along for the agile ride. If the F-word isn’t going to work in your context, convey instead that the intent is to learn quickly, as this maximises the chances of delivery, and they will more likely engage.

I will leave you with an entertaining video to highlight this approach my friend Gina Bradbury likes to share,