Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Fail Fast, Fail Cheap

Here's an interesting business axiom. If you're looking at a new initiative within your business -- say, a new market segment, new product line, new territory, etc., adopt a "Fail fast, fail cheap" strategy. When I first heard this from a Chief Executive Boards International member, it sounded negative to me -- somewhat pessimistic.

On second thought, however, it meshed with another idea I'd heard years before from my friend Ravi Sastry, "You've got to play to win -- not play to decide."

Translated, both these ideas can be summarized in three words: "Go for it". If you're considering something new and non-traditional, go flat out. No reservations, no limitations, take no prisoners. And, at the same time, bound your risk. Determine in advance how much time, how much effort and how much money you're going to risk before making a "go/no-go" decision. Bet an amount that should be sufficient for success, but not enough to swamp the company if it doesn't work.

If you're going to fail, fail fast, and get it over with. Play to win -- go flat out with all guns blazing. And if you fail, fail cheap -- with as little capital at risk as possible -- with a bailout plan in mind. That way, you've ensured your ROI if it works, and you've limited your risk if it doesn't. Know what success looks like, and establish a hard deadline for making that call on whether the effort is successful or not.

If you've had experience with this type of decision (whether haven't yet made it or it just happened), please click "Comments" below and share it with others.

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Terry Weaver

Chief Executive Boards International

Chief Executive Boards International: Freedom for business owners & CEOs -- Less Work, More Money, More Freedom to enjoy it

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