10 December 2006

"Failure is not an option."

Here's another one from the grapevine:(1)

Apparently, a foundation officer who was directing an innovative program to distribute computers to nonprofits and schools across the country declared:

"Failure is not an option."

Oh, really?

Here on Planet Reality, that makes no sense.

First of all, we're talking about information technology. It fails all the time. Sometimes it doesn't do what it was designed to do, and sometimes what it was designed to do turns out to be irrelevant to the organization and the communities that are being served.

Secondly, we're talking about an innovative program. If you are truly doing something new, then you need to accept that some aspects of it may fail. Even if your model has been extensively tested, there's risk involved in bringing it to each new setting.

So can we amend this slogan? How about this?

"Failure is possible, but let's try to minimize
it, and to learn from it when it happens

1) Please keep those emails coming!


Anonymous said...

What is more amusing about that story (if it is the same one) is that while *very* few (~1%) of thousands of grantees failed to achieve their stated goals, the foundation itself spectacularly failed to reach its goals.

Beth said...

This has to be this week's nptech puzzler ..

Ed said...

Failure was the only option for a new IT system installed at a place a friend of mine worked. Months late, hundreds of thousands over budget, little or no training for staff. No way to talk that one down, except blame the providers and forget to mention it was the client's screwball requests that slowed the whole process down!