Failing just got really easy

The single biggest barrier to innovation is the cost of trying, especially the cost of trying and failing.”Failure is not an option” may be a great mantra for moments when life itself depends on success.  The rest of the time, failure should be just a process step, usually followed by evaluating and trying again.

This incremental way of work is behind Agile and Scrum development in both IT and the business and is, essentially, cheaper process. These philosophies lower the cost of failure by bringing it sooner, when risk is smaller and course corrections are easiest. But there are very fundamental shifts in technology that really accelerate innovation by making failure easy:

  • Cheap infrastructure – What is a company? It used to be an office with desks, telephones and full-time workers. This is a very Industrial Age concept that was a high barrier to starting up a new enterprise. Today it is an individual with an email address, probably using Google Apps, and maybe a website. Marketing can be Twitter and Facebook. It couldn’t get much easier than this and many startups are just this lightweight.
  • Cheap data storage – To run anything complicated used to be an enormous investment in servers to manage processing and storage. Provisioning was done based on what may be needed at some point. Cloud computing has allowed even the smallest enterprise or craziest idea to rent-as-you-go what used to be costly. Provisioning can be done on what exactly what is needed at that moment. Amazon sells its cloud storage publicly, and TIBCO’s Silver manages an elastic infrastructure that gives Cloud capabilities and savings within or outside an enterprise.
  • Cheap dev platforms – Look no further than the surging market for back end platforms that can be rented to create mobile and web apps. Innovation can focus on the important and differentiating parts of new ideas when no one needs to buy tools to recreate the non-core stuff. The move to Platform-as-a-Service, or PaaS was truly enabled by the arrival of Cloud storage and computing. With Cloud plus PaaS, you longer need to host the development environment. Life just got even easier for the innovator.
  • Cheap Functionality – We’re likely to look back at the 90’s and early 00’s as the Monolithic Application Age for business. Large systems like ERP and CRM became the backbone of operations. These big, bloated applications seemed necessary to pull together disparate parts of the business and had their moment as organizations struggled to go end-to-end. The rise of mobile apps, on the other hand, makes functionality much simpler and incremental. Some vestige of the monolithic still has its place, perhaps, but only as a back end to the common tasks people perform through purpose-built apps.

Before you think this is a startup kind of thing, headlines show that traditional vendors are moving quickly in this direction, sometimes by buying and sometimes by building out. It may seem counter intuitive, but the companies that string together these ideas are failure enablers, meaning they actually foster accelerated innovation. Just imagine a world where failure is perfectly fine, even expected.

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Categories: Cloud / SaaS / PaaS, Disciplines, Disruption, Featured, Information Technology, Mobility

Author:Chris Taylor

Reimagining the way work is done through big data, analytics, and event processing. There's no end to what we can change and improve. I wear myself out...

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5 Comments on “Failing just got really easy”

  1. June 11, 2012 at 10:21 pm #

    Chris:

    Yes, for software and related businesses what you say is true but has innovation actually increased? Are there more useful innovations in gross numbers (not as % of tirals) in a given period?

    Are there any aspects of business that do not need innovation (is there anything routine)?

    • June 12, 2012 at 3:55 am #

      Yes, I believe there are routine pieces of business that do not need innovation, but are prime targets for automation or outsourcing. The idea of an in-house, vertical business is becoming outdated as companies figure out they can stick to their purpose and find commodity services to do the rest. Anything ‘routine’ isn’t where I’d want to be.

  2. Craig Leppan
    June 11, 2012 at 10:41 pm #

    Reblogged this on Ovations Group Blog and commented:
    Great message from Chris as always and so relevant to the short demos, evaluations and mini projects we see going on, where failure is not expected but learning certainly is.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Failing Just Got Really Easy | WorkEvo - July 26, 2012

    […] “The single biggest barrier to innovation is the cost of trying, especially the cost of trying and failing.”Failure is not an option” may be a great mantra for moments when life itself depends on success.  The rest of the time, failure should be just a process step, usually followed by evaluating and trying again.” Read more… […]

  2. James Bond schools technology sector in Skyfall | Successful Workplace - November 18, 2012

    […] themselves that way. Behaving like a startup isn’t an idea, it is specific and cultural. Allowing failure plays a central […]

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