Fail your way to success


It’s my favorite time of year.  Analysts hang their questions on surveymonkey with care, while visions of harvey balls dance in their heads.  Or something like that.

In one of the first “trendy” reports of the holiday season, IBM released the 2012 Tech Trends report.  You can get your copy here.

The report covers the usual stuff about the shift to cloud, mobile devices everywhere, etc.

But the most striking finding of this study for me was the difference between leaders (or “pacesetters”) and laggards (called the more politically correct “dabblers”) in the area of experimentation.  Check this out:

Pacesetters are nine times more likely to experiment with
technologies that don’t yet have a clear business application,
and twice as likely to proactively develop skills to meet
anticipated needs.

What isn’t discussed in the report is how this kind of experimentation actually gets implemented.  When you do a lot of experimentation, you’re going to fail.  Usually a lot. Articles from the WSJ,  Stanford School of Business, and numerous other studies confirm that the path to success is usually strewn with failures.

One of the most powerful things that technologies like business process management can do is to lower the cost of failure for experimentation.  By reducing the cycle time from ideas to inception, you can try out a LOT more ideas than if you were implementing a massive piece of code.  And this “safe environment” doesn’t have to be something hidden away in a lab somewhere in your organization.  It should be a place where everybody can experiment – technical and non-technical people.

Hopefully 2013 will be a year of trying new ideas, and embracing those “learning moments” “opportunities for growth” “planned enhancements” “challenges” “unplanned outcomes” failures.


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