Fail fast, fail often, fail early – clay pots, startups and perfection

Fail fast, fail often, fail early – words we inevitable hear when talking about startups and entrepreneurship. But what does it really mean? What kind of failure are we talking about?

A few months ago I stumbled across a very interesting story about failing, which might explain the obsession with failing culture and it’s hidden benefits. This story is from a book called: “Art and Fear” and it goes like this:

“The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality.

His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the “quantity” group: fifty pound of pots rated an “A”, forty pounds a “B”, and so on. Those being graded on “quality”, however, needed to produce only one pot — albeit a perfect one — to get an “A”.

Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work – and learning from their mistakes — the “quality” group had sat theorising about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.”

In other words, when people say fail fast, fail often, fail early what they actually mean is practice, practice, practice because getting good at your startup is not different from any other capability. Making mistakes at the beginning is normal, but the more you practice the better you become. And the earlier you make those mistakes, the faster you learn.

And let me leave you with this awesome quote from Thomas Edison:

Thomas Edison Photo Quote 2

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.