Random thought of the day: Failure

Last night I was recuperating from a very late and very long business meeting by browsing through the Discovery/Science Channel/History Channel loop I have set as my favorites on my DVR when I ran across a short program on Robert H. Goddard, the father of rocketry.

I find his story fascinating because he actually conceived of the idea of using a rocket to travel into space in 1899, almost four years before the Wright Brothers first airplane flight in 1903. A mere ten years later, in 1909, he published a paper describing the possibility of a liquid-fueled rocket using liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen as fuel.  But, it wasn't until 1926 that he was actually successful in making a rocket fly using liquid propellant.

You need to remember that he was pioneering a field of research that pretty much did not exist so everything they did was pretty much a logical application of trial and error.  Otherwise known as, "by the seat of their pants."

He was also an extremely patient man who regarded failure as, "valuable negative information."

This sentiment has been modernized with the phrase, "Fail fast. Fail often."

I bore you with this story because of the correlation I drew between Goddard's work and the meeting I had last night.  We received a sales lead from Microsoft from a local entrepreneur who wants to create a service-based web site.  He came to talk to us about some of the customer-relationship aspects of his idea.

I showed him CRM and explained how we could use CRM as the data storage mechanism to back-end his web site.  This, of course, brought up many "what if" and "could we" questions from the prospect.  Most of which could be addressed with the proper application of various web, CRM, and database technologies.

One thing that I stress to all of my customers is that most things they need are possible, but some things are just not practical.

Many things look good on paper and in theory, but in practice, they prove to be infeasible.  This is where the concept of rapid-prototyping comes into play.

CRM almost always provides at least two paths to implementing any solution.  What continues to amaze me, even after all this time, is the fact that we can consider implementation alternatives in an extremely rapid fashion to arrive at a solution that is both practical and feasible.  I consider this to be a case of rapid prototyping, but I'm not sure most people would.

So if you're still awake at this point in my story, here's my advice when designing a CRM-based solution:

1) Define the requirements.

2) Identify the possible methods of implementation.

3) Begin with the implementation of the most theoretical possibility first.

4) When you hit a wall, try something else until you find something that fits.

Hopefully, you'll arrive at a practically feasible solution.  :)

 

References and Additional Reading:

http://www.clarku.edu/research/archives/goddard/faqs.cfm

 

http://www.lifeclever.com/fail-early-fail-often-my-first-taste-of-rapid-prototyping/

http://www.leepoint.net/notes-java/principles_and_practices/40fail-early-fail-often.html

http://blogs.msdn.com/micahel/archive/2005/08/17/FailFast.aspx

http://www.managementtoday.co.uk/search/article/548074/fail-early-fail-often-ideo-service-design/

http://softwarecraftsmanship.blogspot.com/2007/08/fail-early-but-not-often.html

http://www.steve-olson.com/is-there-a-relationship-between-early-failure-and-future-success/

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