Allowing Failure

  • Comments posted to this topic are about the item Allowing Failure

  • This theme reminds me of two quotes:

    "The burned hand teaches best. After that, advice about fire goes to the heart." (from Lord of the Rings)
    "Experience is a good teacher, but her fees are high." (saw this somewhere).

    Personally, "allowing failure" is well down my list of preferred options. When people refuse to listen to advice, they do sometimes have to learn "the hard way". The trouble being, of course, that the fallout from "the hard way" may wreak a company, or a career, or careers. One would therefore prefer to avoid it if possible.

    Of course, one may be able to pull success from the jaws of failure. And that is pretty certain to make a good story, and many fond memories.


  • You only ever learn in chess is when you lose.
    - Anon


    [font="Tahoma"]Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes. – Carl Jung.[/font]
  • We learn much more from our failures than our successes ... our successes don't show us things that we didn't already know.

    The children point is important. Over the last few decades, parents and teachers have worried far too much about protecting a child's 'self esteem'. We have a generation of people coming of age who are (if you've been following the news) distressed that college is to stressful and demanding, that grades and tests are oppressive, and that punctuality, grammar, and mathematical standards are arbitrary and oppressive.

    No room for success there.


    -- FORTRAN manual for Xerox Computers --

  • It's not so much about allowing people to "fail" as it allowing people to experiment. Small controlled failures are intrinsic to the experimentation process and learning, not just in IT and science but in and everyday life.

    "Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Instead, seek what they sought." - Matsuo Basho

  • Just back in the office after a day in the woodshop.  There are no end of ways to 'fail' when making something, and each time I discover one, it is a new lesson.  I was actually talking about this with the guy who mentors me, and I compared it to a time in my life when I took a train to work.  You can get to the train with lots of time to spare, or only a second, but no matter what, you have always 'succeeded'.  The only way to really know what it means to miss a train is to be standing on the platform watching it roll away.  Then you completely understand 'success' and 'failure'.  Until then, they are only concepts.

  • The cost of failure needs to measured against the educational benefit of failure.

  • Sky-diving, anyone?

  • This makes me think of development - especially with learning to code. Failure here is mandatory because it is the only way you'll learn how it works. Like learning a foreign tongue, reading from a textbook isn't enough.

  • When my kids were growing up, I'd often give them a chance to fail at something in a safe environment just so they would learn to not just take my word for it. Too often in my career, I've said "That's not gonna work" only to have my counsel ignored. Except, unlike my kids, those who then fail looked for someone else to blame (usually me) for not informing them well enough, or not doing their part, it was a day that ended in "y", or...  (you get the picture).

    Sometimes people just want something to work so badly that they don't work through the process in their minds. They only see the final result and think that it couldn't be that hard. This is typical of management who doesn't have a clue that they don't understand what's going on and then they say, "well, how hard can it be?"SG-1 Facepalm

  • RandomStream wrote:

    Sky-diving, anyone?

    I'm going to "bail"on that one.  Pun definitely intended. 😀

    --Jeff Moden

    RBAR is pronounced "ree-bar" and is a "Modenism" for Row-By-Agonizing-Row.
    First step towards the paradigm shift of writing Set Based code:
    ________Stop thinking about what you want to do to a ROW... think, instead, of what you want to do to a COLUMN.

    Change is inevitable... Change for the better is not.

    Helpful Links:
    How to post code problems
    How to Post Performance Problems
    Create a Tally Function (fnTally)

  • Allowing failure: Steve and others use children learning as an analogy for this. That works very well because this is childish. When I am a member of your team, there is no need for failure, ever. The reason is because of this: I am a professional. I seek the best solution in all cases. I use professional techniques to solve problems and avoid failure. When I am on a team comprised of other professionals, I can pretty much guarantee that you will have an acceptable solution in all cases, sometimes a stellar solution, and your risk of failure is minimal. That's what you get with a team of professionals. Apparently, some people are not so fortunate, and for you, I truly feel sorry. For myself, I always seek the best available solution, and failure is not an option.

    Edited to add that I am upsetting myself the more I think about this topic. Someone who is in charge of a production database, thinking this way? "Oops, sorry I brought down production, my bad. At least I learned something"??? Who on earth would think this is ok?


  • RandomStream wrote:

    Sky-diving, anyone?

    Extremely well said. A little bit of failure is a learning experience, is it? Nonsense.

  • Possibly it is not truly failure until you stop looking for a better solution.  You need more 'Ah!s' and 'Oops!'

    Disaster Recovery = Backup ( Backup ( Your Backup ) )

  • RandomStream wrote:

    Sky-diving, anyone?

    Ah, yes. If at first you don't succeed, sky-diving is definitely not for you.


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