Monthly Archives: December 2016

Going Public about Failure: 5 Designers Share Life-Changing Mistakes

Going Public about Failure: 5 Designers Share Life-Changing Mistakes

Earlier this week, I wrote about the concept of “fail fast” and how it is being championed in organizations around the world. If you’re not familiar with it, fail fast is about making small mistakes and responding quickly with new iterations and changes while working towards a bigger goal. It’s the antithesis of holing up to create something in isolation and then present it to the world expecting everything to go well.

Companies that create products, like Dyson vacuums, to those that provide consulting, like PwC, use this method with success. By instilling it within the culture of their organization, it allows employees to practice and learn along the way, and in turn produce positive results for their customers and clients.

But what happens when, despite your best efforts and intentions, you still fail big?

How do you recover and overcome a huge mistake? For many of us, our loved ones and confidants receive the brunt of our crushing blows. They stand beside us, helping us through the agony. They create a safe place where we learn to retell the story in a “constructive” way.

Here’s a challenge to that: what if you just said, “I fucked up?”

And, to take it one step further, what if you told this to colleagues, peers, and even complete strangers?

Five well-known designers just did this.

Continue Reading

Facing failure squarely in the face

“Fail fast” has become the motto of modern business practice. We’re told this is the way to design and build a successful project or business rather than planning every intricate detail and then implementing the plan. But putting this into practice is not as easy as the two-word motto makes it out to be.

So let me use a short example to illustrate this concept.

James Dyson, the chairman and chief engineer of his namesake vacuum cleaner company, has used failure to drive the realization of all his products. In the book Black Box Thinking, Dyson recalls the number of prototypes it took him to create the technology for his first bagless vacuum cleaner: a mere 5,127.

Think about that for a second.Continue Reading

Knowledge just isn’t cutting it

Books, articles, publications, podcasts, and lectures are a huge source of inspiration and insight into the field. They provide the stories, the trials, and the tribulations.

Sometimes you even get a glimpse of your ideal life. The moment when you say, “Wow, that could be me someday.”

But knowledge has its limitations.

You can see where you want to be but there’s a whole lot of darkness in between where you currently stand and that light at the end of the tunnel. “How do I get there?” you probably have asked too many times to count. “How can I create my own version of what they’re doing?”

And this is for good reason.

Continue Reading