Lean Startup’s Cofounder Shares Why Failure Is Crucial

This is the final post in our 13-part Lean Startup Co. Education Program series. A curated collection of pieces designed to cover topics ranging from cross-functional teams, to embracing failure, complete with real-world stories from our diverse roster of clients and insights from our Lean Startup Co. Labs Faculty.

Originally published by Forbes.com on June 6th, 2017.

Silicon Valley’s “fail fast” mantra has gained so much hype that it’s easy to gloss over, but I truly believe failure is critical to success—it doesn’t deserve to be a buzzword. I recently sat down with Heather McGough, co-founder of Lean Startup Co., the conference and educational offshoot of Eric Ries’ eponymous bestselling book, at Hint’s offices in San Francisco, and I was eager to hear more about how she thinks about this concept.

The Lean Startup methodology helps entrepreneurs and professionals “manage uncertainty and disruption in a fast-moving world,” and a lot of that really comes down to data-driven experimentation and ultimately: failure. It’s a scary word, but as Heather points out, “Failure ensures that we aren’t going to waste a lot of time or money creating something that isn’t helping anyone in the end.”

The great thing is that any time we put something new out in the world, in front of our audience, or our existing consumer base, we have a feedback loop. We have data, whether that’s anecdotal comments or purchases or clicks, that can show us what works and what may ultimately fail. The crucial thing is to use it, and recognize when it’s time to cut your losses, to make improvements, or to invest more heavily in an idea. Too often I see entrepreneurs continuing to push and spend without analyzing the wealth of information in front of them. If you’re not examining failure, you’re burning cash.

Last week we published If You’re Always Right, You’re Doing it Wrong. We love our own ideas, so it’s easy to fall into the trap of interpreting feedback as positive ever thought it’s actually luke-warm (luke-warm means “no”). 

If you seek to bring the entrepreneurial spirit to your large, complex organization, Lean Startup Company can help. We offer live and virtual training, coaching and consulting to empower people and companies to solve their own problems using entrepreneurial management, no matter their industry, size company, or sector of the economy. Email us.