Failure

One thing that occurred to me when reading over this site so far is: you get a really skewed view of how it really works to solve problems and design things. Pretty much everything we put on here works really well - it’s why we bothered to write it up. But a TON of things we try don’t work. In fact we expect a lot of failure. I used to get quite down about this, years ago, but now I find great inspiration in the process.

One reason we focus really hard on things that are cheap and easy is so it’s ok to make lots of mistakes. When you’re off exploring the wilderness on your own, you can’t afford to bet the farm. You learn to both spread out your risks, and accept them as necessary. Daniel Dennet says Become a connosieur of your own mistakes, turning them over in your mind as if they were works of art paper and that’s something we try to do every time, but we should also try to share those insights. I am reminded of the Survivorship Bias here too:

The problem with sorting out failures and successes is that failures are often muted, destroyed, or somehow removed from sight while successes are left behind, weighting your decisions and perceptions, tilting your view of the world. That means to be successful you must learn how to seek out what is missing. You must learn what not to do.

~ How we miss what is missing and what to do about it

Yes we make mistakes, yes we fail, but you learn from your mistakes, you feed that back in and change course and, over time, you close in on something, until you get something that’s really good (good enough).

Essentially imagine there are two boxes: (1) could this work? and (2) does this work?. You have to accept there are a lot more things in box one than box two, and just see yourself, dispassionately, as a filter, sorting ideas and products and tools into box one or box two. That’s a really big part of inventing things.

I’m thinking right now of a huge long list of failures - the Chillow, a million drinks holders, ergonomic mice, Anyway, given this thought, I’ll do a series on here about products we tried that didn’t work for us, and why. Because failure is important, but we don’t all need to fail alone.