As I was lying in bed thinking about my very first blog post, it dawned on me that giving “Permission to fail” is more than just part of my self-allowance, it’s part of Agile.

“Fail fast, fail often” is a widely-known yet rarely-embraced agile tenet: The idea is that 1) you decide to try something 2) you time-box your experiment 3) you measure the results 4) you iterate and improve (We tend to do alright at steps 1 and 2 but fall a bit flat on the measuring, iterating and improving parts). The above referenced article notes that “Fail fast, fail often” has a negative connotation – the bloggerist prefers “Learn fast, learn often”. I like that – but man, there is something about calling it a “failure” that strikes a heart chord with me – really urges you to change. And quick.

The article also notes several successes that resulted from failure:

  • It took Thomas Edison thousands of failed attempts until he found the correct filament for the light bulb.
  • Kleenex tissues were originally created to help women remove make-up.
  • WD40 gets its name from the number of attempts to get the water displacement formula correct.
  • Post-It notes were invented to replace bookmarks. Their idea was a failure.

Who knew?

What I DO know is that I tend to learn more from my failures than my successes (perhaps sadly, but it is what it is) and that often hitting rock bottom is the best thing that can ever happen to you – I can personally attest to this one (another story). I love this quote, “The lower you fall, the higher you’ll fly. ~ Chuck Palahniuk”. The bloggerist referenced it here:

So, as I continue my Scrum Master (and life) journey, this is one tool that I’ll remember to keep handy in my tool belt – you should too.