Fail Better: Design Smart Mistakes and Succeed Sooner

Fail Better: Design Smart Mistakes and Succeed Sooner

Anjali Sastry, Kara Penn

Language: English

Pages: 336

ISBN: 1422193446

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


If you’re aiming to innovate, failure along the way is a given. But can you fail better?

Whether you’re rolling out a new product from a city-view office or rolling up your sleeves to deliver a social service in the field, learning why and how to embrace failure can help you do better, faster. Smart leaders, entrepreneurs, and change agents design their innovation projects with a key idea in mind: ensure that every failure is maximally useful.

In Fail Better, Anjali Sastry and Kara Penn show how to create the conditions, culture, and habits to systematically, ruthlessly, and quickly figure out what works, in three steps:
1. Launch every innovation project with the right groundwork
2. Build and refine ideas and products through iterative action
3. Identify and embed the learning

Fail Better teaches you how to design your efforts to test the boundaries of your thinking, explore crucial interdependencies, and find the factors that can shift results from just acceptable to groundbreaking—or even world-changing. Practical instructions intertwined with compelling real-world examples show you how to:
• Make predictions and map system relationships ahead of time so you can better assess results
• Establish how much failure you can afford
• Prioritize project activities for disconfirmation and iteration
• Learn from every action step by collecting and examining the right data
• Support efficient, productive habits to link action and reflection
• Distill, share, and embed the lessons from every success and failure

You may be a Fortune 500 manager, scrappy start-up innovator, social impact visionary, or simply leading your own small project. If you aim to break through without breaking the bank—or ruining your reputation—this book is for you.

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Kara focuses on best practice and implementation, an approach that puts her at the front lines of practical management in varied domains. Kara has fifteen years of experience in senior leadership positions with organizations throughout the United States, including as founder, director, chair, and board member. She has led award-winning community collaboratives; designed, managed, and evaluated multiyear social change initiatives; and provided in-depth consulting services to more than sixty NGOs,

balance of results toward the productive and away from the useless. Our starting point is the idea that the right kind of failure—small-scale, reversible, informative, linked to broader goals, and designed to illuminate key issues—paves the way to success. The wrong kind entails waste, discouragement, rigid thinking, and reputational damage. For every potential good failure, the world presents us with many more ways to fail badly. We know you can do better than simply accepting the hand you’re

requirements. This is a good moment to advocate for what you need. Approaching the fit between needs and resources from both sides can help you think about your options as creatively as possible. As you review the inputs you’ve been allocated or have access to, you may find a mismatch: for instance, you may have access to some resources that are not as critical as some essential ingredients that are missing. If simply asking for needed inputs won’t work, a swap of sorts may be feasible. You may

into everyone’s experience to uncover the potential to improve your team’s habits. Insights into potential improvements come from people throughout the hierarchy, and those on the periphery often have as much to offer as insiders. Plan an approach that will work for your team and time frame. You need not make this a long-drawn-out process. Many of the suggestions below can be completed quickly and informally. A Proposed Plan for Identifying Team Improvements Design a special team meeting to

less existential in origin, is almost as ubiquitous: to get the payoffs in the long run, you may need to pay up in the short run. Putting Fail Better methods into practice will require investment in your skills and practices as well as those of your team in order to squeeze learning out of every action. We believe that by aligning the work at hand with individual and team capability development, Fail Better offers the dual value of getting things done within the constraints of a project while

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