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Faliing Your Way To Success

6b6afbaea3bf1de98975dedc5cd083c1?s=47 stevenjackson
June 13, 2015

Faliing Your Way To Success

Given at PGHTechFest 2015


Do you avoid failure? This session is about how you can use failure to learn faster, build better systems, and enable innovative organizations. Learn about cognitive biases, like regret avoidance, that need to be overcome to move past the stigma of failing. Explore experimenting with failure to supercharge learning. Investigate the skills to reframe failure and enable a mindset and culture suitable for success in a world full of random events. Come succeed at failing!


Failure is not simply something to be avoided, but is critical feedback that we often rush to forget. From this basis of embracing failure as feedback, I then present a series of hypotheses that I'm applying to overcome my natural human bias to avoid failure. This talk borrows heavily from a number of concepts in Thinking Fast and Slow, Antifragile, and other "pop" psychology works. It's a soft talk, but it's going to be most relatable to software developers, as that's where all of my stories and background come from - testing, continuous delivery, and version control are some of the examples I draw on.



June 13, 2015


  1. Failing Your Way To Success Steve Jackson @stevejxsn steve.jackson@leandog.com

  2. OMG SO MANY tests

  3. Takeaways • Importance of failure in learning

  4. Failing Your Way To Success Steve Jackson @stevejxsn steve.jackson@leandog.com

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  10. Option 1: IGNORE IT

  11. Option 2: *I* CAN’T

  12. Option 3: STRATEGY

  13. Option 4? I WILL FAIL

  14. Premortem "Imagine that we are a year into the future.

    We implemented the plan as it now exists. The outcome was a disaster. Please take 5-10 minutes to write a brief history of that disaster."
  15. Hypothesis Embrace failure to overcome Regret Avoidance

  16. Regret Avoidance

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  18. http://fc07.deviantart.net/fs70/i/2011/153/d/f/the_scientific_method_by_jackcomstock- d3hv0yo.jpg

  19. ATDD Define Fail Fail Refactor Pass Pass Acceptance Test Developer

    Test TDD
  20. Meetings •Define success criteria •Define failure criteria •Strive to end

    the meeting
  21. Hypothesis Antifragile software is easy to change

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  24. Antifragile

  25. https://www.flickr.com/photos/tpapi/2765541278

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  28. Hypothesis Debt makes you vulnerable

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  30. Hypothesis Local failures are preferable to global failures

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  34. Hypothesis Tests (Experiments) are change enablers

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  37. Hypothesis Reverse expected failure to learn how to reverse random

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  39. Continuous Deployment

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  41. Failure as a non-event

  42. Hypothesis Blame prevents innovation

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  47. Failure Failing Your Way To… Steve Jackson @stevejxsn steve.jackson@leandog.com Success

  48. Thanks! Steve Jackson @stevejxsn steve.jackson@leandog.com

  49. Hypothesis Antifragile systems resist top-down design

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