Fail Faster and Fail Forward


Oct 2023

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Failure. Such an ugly word. It is Not (we are sternly admonished) An Option.

Put that way, failure sounds like a life sentence: fail once, and ye shall be a failure forever more. (Points boney finger, cackles: “And your children, and your children’s children, and your children’s children’s children…!”)

But that’s silly: failure is discrete, and localized, specific to one instance. A failure, small and insignificant – not Failure, an eternal curse. More than anything else, failure is a learning experience, a step on the path to success.

In our great human hive-mind we recognize this distinction, and the imperative to face failure head-on: think of the time-tested incantations to “try try again!” and “third time’s the charm!” and “Never give up! Never surrender!” 

We live in an age when the stakes feel impossibly high, the room for error vanishingly small, the safety-net laughably weak. And we work in an industry built on the cut-throat principle of adapt or perish, an industry that accepts creative destruction as an immutable truth. One false step, one mistake can feel like certain doom. Under this kind of pressure, it’s tempting to just play it safe, stick to the tried and true, settle for the good enough.

Except nowadays, “good enough” isn’t.

The competition is just too fierce, the expectations too high. Playing it safe is perversely the most dangerous move you can make. Failure is in fact the only option (just not the final one).

Failing upwards to success

Failure is baked into the tech industry. It’s the crucible that allows us to test new ideas and discard the ones that don’t work. It’s a powerful teacher, guiding us to innovate and iterate, to keep pushing and tweaking and analyzing until we finally have that victorious Eureka! moment.

Competition in tech is fierce. We’re locked in a Red Queen’s race: keep up, or perish. Stay on your toes and continue pushing boundaries, or you will be displaced. If you don’t continually innovate and adapt, you become irrelevant. Complacency leads to downfall.

Tech is an industry that thrives on innovation and disruption. Progress demands taking risks – and failure is an inherent part of risk-taking. More than just being an inevitable stepping-stone to success, failures are our opportunity to glean valuable insights into inefficiencies, flaws, or fundamental mismatches between your product and market needs.

Consider some of the very public and at-the-time embarrassing failures of industry giants. Nintendo’s early 3D gaming console Virtual Boy was a flop – but paved the way for their later runaway successes like the Nintendo 64, Wii, and Switch. SpaceX seemed like a playboy billionaire’s pie-in-the-sky hobbyhorse, with multiple costly and very visible (some thought risible) failures – until suddenly they were in space, and we got reusable rockets and Starlink and space tourism. (I’m pretty sure the long-awaited flying cars are next.)

Sometimes, one company’s failures are the catalyst for another’s innovation and success: Twitter’s short-form video platform, Vine, failed – but it popularized the concept of short-form video content, and now TikTok has basically taken over the world.

Failure is a fundamental part of the tech industry because it fuels learning, innovation, and adaptation. Embracing failure as a means of growth and improvement is a key driver of progress in the ever-evolving tech landscape.

But failure is expensive when done publicly – whether you’re blowing up rockets or just piles of VC money. What you need is a safe place to fail.

A Safe Space to Fail

Failing your way towards innovation takes time, and trust. Even if your company has embraced ‘failing forward’ as a concept, and fostered a culture where employees feel safe to experiment and make mistakes, the actual iterative process of innovation can be frustrating, uncertain, and tedious. It’s easy to get bogged down in what feels like an endless loop of trial-and-error.

Drag it on too long, and the innovation process turns into a quagmire of indecision and inertia. Genius ideas wind up sidelined, or abandoned. Potential killer apps bite the dust.

If you want your fledgling creations to soar, you need a testing ground that lets you vet your ideas thoroughly, quickly – and without incurring too high of costs. You need to work out the kinks before putting developer hands on the keyboard.

You need EX Squared’s Launchpad.

Launchpad: Like rocketfuel for innovation

Whether you’re a start-up or an established global-giant, developing a promising concept into a new digital product is … tricky. Launchpad was designed to clear your path to success, blasting obstacles out of the way and giving your brilliant ideas the fuel they need for lift off.

Over the past 20 years, we’ve helped some of the world’s best known brands validate new ideas using proven methods to deliver the hard data they need before they invest in full scale product design and development. 

Launchpad is a carefully curated blueprint for business leadership seeking to determine the viability of their MVP. Our low-cost, collaborative program was designed to answer three critical questions:

  1. What’s it going to take to bring your product vision to reality?
  2. How much would it cost to bring a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to market?
  3. How long will it take to bring an MVP to market?

You’re the expert in your domain. You’ve outlined your vision and its potential impact on your business and customers. We are the experts you need to bring that amazing enterprise-class digital experience to life.

Together, we’ll define your product’s potential features and challenges. We’ll help you focus on the priorities most worth addressing in order to provide the world-class customer experience that sets you apart. We’ll lay it all out there for you, so you have all the data you need to make informed decisions.

With Launchpad, you don’t just get a vague idea – you get tangible outcomes. You’ll understand what it will take in terms of money, time and effort to bring your MVP to market. It’s that simple.

Prepare for liftoff.

EX Squared is a creative technology agency that creates digital products for real human beings.