When the Cost of Failure Comes Down, the Chance of Success Goes Up

One of the points I repeatedly try to drive home is that you must get your product or service into the market place.

I’ve written, for example, on the importance of iteration over cogitation, and frequently referenced Deming.

In Cognitive Surplus, Clay Shirky suggests:

Allowing and excepting for failure at low cost is beneficial as it allows us the freedom to try a combination of approaches, “the exploration of multiple possibilities.”

Shirky is talking about open systems, and, while he’s, of course, right, this allowance for low-cost failure also applies to the creative type.

What it means is that it can be very beneficial to rapidly prototype an idea (a song, a video, a webisode, a book through, ahem, blog posts, etc.) because your costs — both in terms of actual dollars and the all-important time (i.e. opportunity cost) — are so low, and the potential benefit is so high.

In other words, if your ideas don’t stick (however you define “stick”), you simply move on, after attempting to learn from the gesture. If they do gain some traction, you’re off to the races.

The “attempting to learn from the gesture” part is crucial, and another advantage to this approach. You simply cannot have a real sense of whether your product, service, or idea has any merit in a vacuum. You must get it out in some form in order to get the feedback from customers to define and refine.

So, again, please make the move from cogitation into iteration. The costs of doing so are increasingly low; the upside high; and the alternative (i.e. doing nothing) not good.

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