Many thought leaders will tell you the importance of failing fast — the ability to make changes, learn from them, and iterate to make a better version, all before your competitors catch on. But there’s a difference between simply failing and failing well. A good failure is one that takes a measured step in an unknown direction; it’s a controlled experiment that may or may not pan out but will result in significant learning either way. Good failures become a trail of breadcrumbs, leading you to the next best course of action.
Bad failure is messier. It’s an unplanned leap in the dark. Its objectives are unclear, and its outcomes are difficult to quantify and learn from. Bad failures easily pull companies into greater uncertainty. All in all, it’s a time-suck and a drain on your company’s budget and resources.
So all you have to do is choose the good failures over the bad failures, right? Well, it isn’t as simple as that. In order to create learning experiences — not just flat-out failures — you have to be able to discern good experiments and risks from poor ones.