Kristian Hessler, an agile transformation expert at PA Consulting Group, shares his perspective on why we shouldn´t be afraid to fail. Most of us have been taught that failure is bad and, as project managers, we invest many resources in planning the perfect delivery. But by trying too eagerly to avoid mistakes we miss out on a great potential for learning. More importantly, we also risk creating a culture that motivates people to put off assignments that could potentially cause them to fail or, even worse, to hide their mistakes. This puts both the assignment and the organisation at risk.
Kristian argues we should view errors as unavoidable and stop trying to plan as if we can avoid them. Instead, we should look to minimise their influence on projects by discovering them early and by making sure we´re able to react timely when they occur.
To make room for faults, organisations must challenge their organisational culture and the way they view failure.
Hessler says: "One example are design errors that are simply caused by the fact that customers can´t explain exactly what they want a future solution to look like, making it difficult for the organisation to develop a good design. These errors can´t be avoided but their influence on quality and cost can be minimised by discovering them early and reacting swiftly to them."
A key factor in this is applying agile methods that are built on experimental and iterative processes, offering organisations a series of well tested models for organising and structuring development work. By applying scaled agile frameworks such as SAFe, organisations can achieve a greater degree of transparency and structure, allowing larger organisations to control an experimental approach strategically.
Kristian Hessler is an agile transformation expert at PA Consulting Group.