Failing Faster

June 14, 2009
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Here is a simple question to ask yourself: do I insist on solving problems myself? A noble goal, until it takes too long to get the answer. Why don’t we fail fast enough to ask the question to someone who knows? Remember, we pay a ton of money for annual maintenance to our enterprise software providers, so we should [more quickly] be “giving up”, and submitting the question to the “experts” to get to answers quickly.

In an earlier post, I asked Would you like me to Google that for you?, which is kind of a sideways slam – IT people can and should be able to get questions answered on their own. So, why is it that some folks search Google or consult other experts, and get their questions answered quickly – versus insisting on figuring things out for themselves? My personal theory is that they’re not “lazy” enough; I’ve got many other things to do, so I want to find a quick way to answer those questions. (Note that laziness also makes me want to find the good, solid solution and not the quick-and-dirty one, because I don’t want to have to come back later – I’m proactively lazy.)

It possibly has something to do with maintaining face in front of your manager (“I think someone expects ..

Here is a simple question to ask yourself: do I insist on solving problems myself? A noble goal, until it takes too long to get the answer. Why don’t we fail fast enough to ask the question to someone who knows? Remember, we pay a ton of money for annual maintenance to our enterprise software providers, so we should [more quickly] be “giving up”, and submitting the question to the “experts” to get to answers quickly.

In an earlier post, I asked Would you like me to Google that for you?, which is kind of a sideways slam – IT people can and should be able to get questions answered on their own. So, why is it that some folks search Google or consult other experts, and get their questions answered quickly – versus insisting on figuring things out for themselves? My personal theory is that they’re not “lazy” enough; I’ve got many other things to do, so I want to find a quick way to answer those questions. (Note that laziness also makes me want to find the good, solid solution and not the quick-and-dirty one, because I don’t want to have to come back later – I’m proactively lazy.)

It possibly has something to do with maintaining face in front of your manager (“I think someone expects me to figure this out …”). Corporate culture may tend towards a desire to get something “done to quality”; I have to get 100% of my requirements into the finished project, and if it takes a long time – so be it. Or, it could just be that you are lost in the problem, and are not aware that time is flying and nothing is happening.

It may take a bit of humility, but the truth is often more humbling – folks don’t care if you solve the problem, they just want the problem solved.

However, it is also true that when the dust settles, people will remember that you got the problem resolved – method is less important than results.

Previously …

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