Failure is good
We get a lot of mixed messages about failure.
- “Failure is good.”
- “Fail early so you can avoid failure later on, because failure is bad.”
- “If you manage to succeed without failing then you have failed because your reach should exceed your grasp.”
We are sometimes told to leap because the net will appear. I believe this is bad advice, supported by literal survivor bias. Nobody writing a book about success interviews a chalk outline on the sidewalk.
Design Thinking instead relies on iteration and prototypes. If a clusterfuck is at one end of the failure spectrum, Design Thinking contains contains risk at the “useful lesson” end.
Show a prototype to potential customers and they don’t like it? You’ve lost the time and money to put together the prototype, but gained a valuable insight. Manufacturing says your prototype is infeasible? Valuable insight. Can’t be sold at a profit? Valuable insight.
Don’t hold on too tight!
After taking other reasonable precautions, as a last check my dad would touch potentially live wires with the back of his hand. Voltage present? His hand would clench and flinch away from the wire. If instead he were to hold a wire with his hand, any voltage would cause him to clench it even tighter, with consequences best avoided!
Design Thinking is a way to keep a nasty shock from turning fatal. Design Thinking is the antidote the hubris behind the most egregious failures. It is a reminder to try low risk experiments before committing to an untested, potentially disastrous result.