Failing fast is a mindset that embraces trial-and-error, hypothesis-driven experimentation in the pursuit of developing and launching new ideas. It's all about creating a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and receiving early feedback to determine whether your concept is worth pursuing or not. It's an efficient way to either validate or invalidate an idea before investing too much time, energy, and resources into it.
What is Pivoting with Purpose?
Pivoting with purpose means recognizing when your current strategy isn’t working and making a deliberate and intentional change in direction. This can be a difficult decision for founders to make, as it often involves admitting that their original vision may not have been the right one. However, by pivoting with purpose, startups can avoid wasting time and resources on a failing strategy and instead focus on finding a new path to success.
Fail Fast: The Key to Success
The fail-fast mentality is often associated with startups and software development, but it can be an integrated part of the strategic process. This approach requires the willingness to take risks and learn quickly from failures. One of the best examples of how this philosophy can be integrated into an organization's strategy process is the approach described by A.G. Lafley and Roger Martin in Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works.
The Approach to Strategy Process
The strategy process defined in Playing to Win involves a series of steps that incorporate the fail-fast approach. The first step is to frame the choice by turning challenges into mutually exclusive approaches that might address the issue. Next, generate possibilities by expanding the list to be as comprehensive as possible. The third step is to specify conditions that must be true in order for the possibility or approach to be a viable solution. The fourth step is to identify barriers to choice by determining which of those conditions is least likely to hold. The fifth step is to design tests by building a valid test of the hypothesis that the entire strategy team agrees is valid. The sixth step is to conduct tests by executing the tests and reviewing the results. Finally, based on the results, choose the path forward.
At first glance, this approach might not look like what you typically think of when you hear "fail fast." However, it demonstrates how the tradeoff between strategic planning and fail-fast approaches is actually a false choice. Designing thoughtful, creative, and strategic tests can be a critical component of an organization's core strategy process.
Benefits of Strategic Testing
In some ways, this approach takes the fail-fast mentality even further by focusing the initial tests on the elements of a strategy least likely to succeed. This is done to avoid wasting time on testing the easiest assumptions that are likely to hold. By testing the most difficult pieces first, organizations can quickly identify the flaws in their strategy and pivot accordingly. This approach helps companies to stay nimble, responsive, and competitive in a rapidly changing environment.
In conclusion, the fail-fast approach can be integrated into the strategic process. A.G. Lafley and Roger Martin's strategy process is an excellent example of how the fail-fast approach can be incorporated into a company's core strategy. By designing strategic tests and focusing on the elements least likely to succeed, companies can quickly identify flaws in their strategy and pivot accordingly. This approach can help organizations stay nimble and responsive in an ever-changing business landscape. The key to success is to be willing to take risks, learn quickly from failures, and never be afraid to pivot.