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Fruitful Failing - Are You Using These 6 Rules?

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"Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day." 
- Jim Rohn

One of those disciplines is Fruitful Failing.  Incorporate these 6 rules into your product development efforts and you'll be on your way to success.

1. Practice being curious about why things fail.  Ask questions, observe, taste, feel, smell.  If you can't explain something in the failure, if something seems odd, follow up!  (This is more of a disposition than a step in a process.) 

2. Can this failure actually be used?  In other words, is it truly a failure? Maybe it's an entirely new entity - what alchemists would call a tertium quid.

3. Can some aspect of the failure be used?  If the failure doesn't result in something totally  new, perhaps there is a subsystem/component that is useful in its failed form.

4. What did I do? How did I get here?  Understand the full width and breadth of what was done to create the failure.  Look at the ingredients that went into the failure, the tools and fixtures, the timing, the context/environment.  Understand what truly caused the failure. (In contrast to Rule #1, this is investigation and analysis.)

5. Document it!  Jot it down, put it into your phone, take pictures, make recordings. At the very minimum, commit what you can to memory.  Be conscious about remembering what happened so that it doesn't happen again.

6. Can you recreate the failure?  At the end of the day, we should be able to recreate the failure.  If we can't recreate it, we didn't understand it. In that case, go back to Rules #4 and #5.

"I've failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed." 
- Michael Jordan

Michael Plishka is the President of ZenStorming(TM), a design and innovation consultancy.  He can be reached at michael@zenstorming.com.

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