Saturday, May 12, 2012

Fail Fast to Make It Better

Successful Internet companies feared about any kind of failures in product design and development. In past 10 years, all companies followed a single mode: they tend to first come up with brilliant ideas purely based on intuition, and then spend six months or even longer to build it, improve it internally with numerous of alpha or beta tests, and launch. They want their products to be perfect at launch.
However, today, successful companies intentionally fail. With small, fast, and well-controlled failures, the company can look on the data and move on. If we think engineering days as bullets, a large volume of days in traditional model is consolidated and built into an artillery shell, you have only one chance to hit the target and it cost expensively. In new model, officially called agile development, days are made into a clip of bullets. You shot, correct, and shot again. This way you have more chance to hit the target – customers. In other words, while companies keep a long-term vision, they should keep trying different strategies until one works. 
More important, failing fast involved customers into the product development. All changes made are based on consumer insights and aimed for improve customer experience in different levels. The final products are actually the result of crowd source. Customers will be satisfied by the products which they made by themselves.
Probably, trying and failing is the best way to keep you on the ground. You will keep customer-centric, curious, and humble. Mark Pincus said “Success is dangerous because often you don’t understand why you succeeded. You almost always know why you’ve failed.” So, let’s fail in small, controllable scale to avoid true failure.

Terrence Ye is a graduate student in the Northwestern Medill Master of Integrated Marketing Communications program and is specializing in consumer insight from big data. Terrence will be graduating in December 2012. He can be reached on twitter using the handle @terrenceye

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