The culture of fail fast, fail often in innovation: Effective?11 min read

fail fast learn fast

If you’re in this article because you’ve heard about the “fail fast, fail often” concept, then you might be interested to know whether this strategy works or not.

Some individuals, particularly those who haven’t fully understood the concept, may view the “fail fast, fail often” mentality as a silly business strategy to follow.

On the contrary, however, this strategy certainly works when implemented appropriately. But it isn’t that simple, as it takes more than effort and determination to execute repeatedly.

Despite its negative connotation, most prominent start-ups and innovators believe that this innovative concept is truly helpful and beneficial if it is used by organizations as a mechanism to learn what is necessary to improve an initial idea.

If so, what is this “fail fast, fail often” strategy? How does it work?

What is the “fail fast, fail often” innovation?

At first glance, the “fail quickly, fail often” method may appear counter-intuitive.

However, numerous contemporary trends in innovation, such as rapid prototyping and launching goods initially in beta, are all about making quick, incremental tweaks that identify little faults and then addressing them faster than rivals.

That is the strategy’s main goal — to fail repeatedly and learn what needs to be improved in order to achieve your desired output.

Most importantly, the principle of this method seeks to minimize and even overcome initial failures:

By fairly testing what you have in advance you will be better at identifying the flaws of your product or industry that need rapid fix attention.


Because of this concept, companies don’t have to wait for so long anymore before introducing a product into the market.

The rapid advancement of technology and economic cycles have pushed businesses to establish new strategies and approaches in an effort to shorten their internal product development cycles and meet the industry’s needs. This technique is one of them.

As a result, companies can move up the value chain very fast through the use of this method while simultaneously increasing their customer satisfaction and improving the product’s overall quality.

So, with the “fail fast, fail often” strategy, businesses can optimize a product’s life cycle to be on top of their industry and receive greater profitability.

Underlying concept

To perform this strategy, one must remove all of the methods that do not work and find the one that actually does.

To put it simply, “fail quickly and fail often” indicates that the quicker you fail, the faster you will succeed.

Because in this perspective, failing is the only method to learn and realize the flaws of a certain project before implementing them on a huge scale.

The basic ideas behind the “fail fast, fail often” strategy

The “fail fast, fail often” strategy observes four significant principles:

Principle #1: Fail early

The earlier you fail, the sooner you can learn how to perfectly create something that’s beneficial for your target audience.

Through this, you can obtain real-time feedback on what works and what doesn’t.

Then you can use that to enhance, improve, adjust, and tweak all the necessary areas of the project before deploying it again for testing.

Principle #2: Fail quickly

Failing quickly and learning from it means being able to resolve issues and achieve top-notch quality fast.

When an idea immediately fails, feedback is gained right after.

Rectifications and upgrades are applied, and the project can then be submitted for another round of testing and quick feedback until the desired quality or output is achieved.

Principle #3: Fail frequently

Failing frequently means more chances of pushing the project into its proper path.

The more you persevere, experiment, and figure out which way to go, the more you can block out erroneous directions and avoid wasting time and resources on something that will not end up advantageous for your business in any way.

Principle #4: Fail better

With numerous and early failures, all that is required is to maximize learning chances and transform them into outputs.

One option is to be present with the real user as they test the project, and another is to code up what we understand as rapidly as possible in order to help us find the proper route as quickly as possible.

How to create a culture of fearless innovation

Failure has always been viewed as an error and a waste of resources in business, which is why they are often avoided, which in turn slows the adoption and implementation of learning from failure.

As a result, many opportunities to gain knowledge and modify go undetected and untapped.

Considering how the propensity to avoid failure is embedded into human nature, we are not designed to passively accept failure as a possibility. However, in the world of innovation, things are slightly different.

Steps may come with various risks, and culture of fearless innovation is necessary to venture into unexplored concepts, discover breakthroughs, modify processes, and create value for both the organization and its customers.

That being said, here are five ways to establish a culture of fearless innovation:

1. Define when something is a good idea

In order to decide which concept will help you reach the goals and objectives that you’ve established for your organization in respect to other aspects such as organizational skills, resources, and alignment with business strategies, you need a large number of ideas.

So, once you’ve collected at least 300 of these ideas, you will need to establish an assessment criterion to identify and recognize which among the proposed concepts and processes have the potential to become your next innovation case.

Ideas are the bedrock of innovation, so you need to identify which ideas you would like to pursue in order to turn your innovation objectives into a reality.

You may also decide on this with your colleagues via innovation tools and ask them to rank and examine all the listed concepts for evaluation, prioritization, and feedback.

2. Define a list of rules of engagement on how to innovate and stick to it

People in most companies work in groups. However, in far too many teams, employees are disengaged and do not contribute their full potential.

As such, it is necessary to establish certain regulations and etiquette in driving a productive, harmonious, and unified approach.

Given the differences between people in an innovation team, toward safe ways of interacting with others is beneficial to instill a sense of security, particularly in procuring a safe space for people to express themselves and their ideas openly.

This necessitates the formation of the “rules of engagement’ — a set of norms that everyone can accept and follow.

In innovation, these principles detail how members of an innovation team should communicate with one another in order to respect confidential discussions, engage in productivity, foster open and honest communication, and encourage the expression of individual thoughts.

3. Take it as an opportunity to learn (never make the same mistake twice)

Failure may be unpleasant and discouraging. But this negative experience can be turned into something valuable — a learning tool for innovation.

Nowadays, corporate leaders and disruptors have begun to emphasize the importance of failure in encouraging innovation.

It’s important for every organizational culture to perceive failure as an opportunity to learn what to avoid and what to continue doing.

Because of evolving customer demands and the increasing pace of technology, companies have to continually innovate to survive.

To succeed in innovation, businesses must make experimentation a habit. That’s why it is vital for you to test out your theories and ideas, or to seek to improve or eliminate everything that inhibits your success.

As they say, constant testing is essential to moving forward.

When you find out all the ugly, never make the same mistake twice and keep going until you’ve reached the point of success (whatever that means in your innovation dashboard).

4. Lower the cost of failure. Do good analysis and find the real problem

Failure can cost you your resources, particularly money and time.

When you reduce any of these expenses, you improve the likelihood of innovation. One method is to develop physical or digital models for prototyping.

If you want to lower the cost of failure, do a good analysis and find the real problem. Put in place tools and processes to ensure business continuity in the case of a breakdown.

Then, ensure that you can simply, swiftly, and consistently transfer everything from development to production. Then, verify that there is sufficient supervision and reports in place to swiftly alert the team if issues arise in the execution phase.

Finally, ensure that there are tools in place to quickly roll back releases should error occur by then.

Learning the Manchester Model

The Manchester model applies the ‘fail fast, learn fast’ method as it includes a science supply chain that connects academia and business end-users.

It is essential to consider that this model does not always imply a seamless movement from experiments to market.

A project may experience delays and hiccups at any given moment and must recalculate its efforts while the issue is kept down and examined afresh.

With the Manchester paradigm, companies can accelerate science-to-product innovation by responding swiftly to failure.

As a result, failure is nothing to be afraid of — provided it is managed properly.

Committing to a fail fast, fail often innovation culture

The “fail fast, fail often” culture deals with accepting setbacks to generate a cycle of feedback and learning.

This mentality of trying, anticipating failures, and being equipped to cope with and gain knowledge from errors leads to innovation.

Success can come from failure, and cultivating a culture of failure readiness and acceptance will culminate in a more innovative organization.

Failures that happen as a consequence of taking new innovation ventures should not be penalized, but rather commended and learned from. If you want to innovate, you have to take risks.

In order to take risks, you need to understand how important failing is for innovation success.

Discover the secrets of developing an innovative organization by grabbing a copy of our innovation ebook now. Turn your business into an effective innovation engine today.

Published On: February 28th, 2022Categories: Innovation strategy

Engage Your Circle: Share This Article on

Related Posts