Fail Fast

8/26/2005 7:39:36 AM

Fail Fast

Fail Fast” is a common refrain that I have heard from Eric Sink, Kate Gregory (via Julie Lerman) and others. Using the words of Julie Lerman,

“this is basically about the value of trying something out and getting it over quickly if it’s going to fail rather than debating the possibilities endlessly or pursuing the project in a way that you won’t find the point of failure until pretty far into the game.”

My issue with this statement is why fail? I view life as a cumulative process, where work and learning from one stage can be reused in a later stages. In my past, I have often tried to choose paths in life that accomplish multiple simultaneous goals to reduce the possibility that my experience would not add to my personal or career growth.

For any sufficiently long software project, it probably makes more sense to design it, so that all one’s investment in effort, time and money is not wasted if the project does not meet original goals. At the very least, one should have learned a great deal from the experience, but, better yet, such work should be salvageable and reusable for other purposes, so one does not start from square zero. This approach also takes advantage of the tendency of the value of development work to appreciate exponentially over time. In effect, the project has not failed but simply been transformed into another project.

While I may appear to have fallen into the “Sunk Cost Fallacy,” I have not simply because the output of the first project is reused or repurposed into a second plausible project rather than simply being completely abandoned. 

For this to work, the codebase needs to be more general than its initial application. There should be ways to repurpose the software for a plan B and C—which is why niche software may not always be a good idea. This also makes it easier to develop a line of products.

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My name is Wesner Moise. I am a software entrepreneur developing revolutionary AI desktop applications. I worked as a software engineer in Microsoft Excel group for six years during the 1990s. I worked on PivotTables and wrote the most lines of code in Excel 97-- about 10 times the median developer. I have a Harvard BA in applied math/computer science and a UCLA MBA in technology entrepreneurship. I am a member of the Triple Nine Society, a 99.9 percentile high-IQ society.

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