Digital Culture 4.0: Fail-Fast, Learn-Quicker


Our DNA means as we experience things over our formative years, we evolve our understanding of the implications of our actions and thus grow in maturity. The less we experience in our minds and physically, the less mature we are. 

There is no denying that we will do far more to avoid pain than to gain pleasure and when combined with understanding the implications of our actions, we avoid failure as we believe we can see it coming and it's associated pain. 

So given this default mechanism inside us, how do we adapt to a changing digital marketplace?

A Sense Of Perspective

There are failures and there are failures, but the variables are speed and size. At the extremes, there's a "Knock-out blow" from which there's no or a slow recovery and then there's the micro failure that's swift and recovery is fast. 

In running a business, a project or your career, each day is filled with more failures than successes, if you're doing your job right. If you're not pushing the boundaries ("no pain, no gain"), you're neither working hard enough, nor trying hard enough. There's no "undefeated" in intrepreneurship / entrepreneurship.

Business is a marathon and a brand build and one built on doing the right thing always for the long-term. The customer is changing their demands and being shown products and services they didn't even know they wanted until they experienced it. The chances are, unless your product has changed to the new demand, you're going to have to innovate and try new ways and that involves many failures, adaptations and finally finding something that works. 

Tenacity Changes The World

A shining example of intelligence and persistence, Thomas Edison was self-taught. It is not widely known that he was almost deaf since childhood. In 1878, he failed 6,000 times, testing different filaments until he finally invented the light bulb. Edison was not only one of history's greatest inventors, but also a businessman that founded the world's first central power plant to provide electricity to Manhattan and gradually illuminate the US Following a merger lead by financier J. P. Morgan, the company became known as the giant General Electric (GE).

There's No Glory In Failure

My fear as digitization hype grows and the acknowledgement of the essential digital culture spreads is "fail fast" starts being seen as a success factor of the digital culture. Remember there's no trophy for 8th place or trying hard in the real world. 

Never glorify failure, but grasp the ability to pivot, turn and jump at the right time. Once failure knocks on your door, be in a position to bounce back in no time if you wish to still remain in the game.

In a market that changes at the speed of the internet, speed matters to remain ahead of your competitors. If you do not learn fast from your mistakes, someone else nearby watching you will. Be fast to benefit first. Everybody has failed, but what sets a few people apart is their clear perception, quality of thinking, courage and persistence. These are the people that can turn failure into a successful failure.

A Successful Failure Culture Is Hard

Failing in IT is not new, especially when it comes to asking the business for their opinion of their latest Enterprise Application implementation!

But building the "fail fast" Digital Culture in a traditional, risk averse enterprise is difficult, especially when the blending of Operational Technologies, Information Technologies and People is required. The reluctance to change comes from the reluctance to fail and while that can be care of the existing culture, it actually is embedded in the psyche early on in our lives. The problem is, there are two meanings of the word failure:

  1. we all know that when we've failed in the past, that we learn from those failures and that they have made us who we are

  2. the one we learned in school, which is if you fail a class or a test, it means you messed-up (failed), you didn't work hard or you're stupid

The fail fast dilemma lies in this dual consciousness, especially if C-Suite Executives don't recognize and address its complexity. 

The Focus Group

From Enterprise-wide perspective, getting through the 4th Industrial Revolution is the most challenging series of projects any organization will undertake today. Changing to the Digital Culture takes time, distributed ambassadors, quick wins, empowered operational workers and scaleable momentum. 

And so, where do you start the process?

We're big believers in MVP Focus Groups that are somewhat incubated from the everyday old ways. A hand-picked, diverse and cross-functional team is required. Their job to innovate, and locate Minimum Viable Products (MVPs), not POCs (we'll talk more about these another day). Their job to find new ways of working, new products and or services that are post MVP, enterprise-wide scaleable. 

The group is allowed to fail, but fast, progress and learn, but fast!

Theory Or Reality

It's good to ready, attend conferences, listen to experts, watch videos, but there really is no way to learn and understand other than by doing and by working hard.

There's no replacing experience in the market of today.

Putting together the team and finding the manager to drive change and deliver scaleable MVPs across the enterprise will be one of your greatest challenges this year. Finding those people who understand your business of the future, while understanding your business of the past is hard to find, unless you're talking to them everyday and of course you don't have time for that.

That's where I come in!

love to hear from you and how I can help you advance into the 4IR