Speaker Deck

Looking for Failure

by stevenjackson

Published May 5, 2017 in Programming

Failure provides critical feedback, but we're conditioned to avoid it at all costs and forget it quickly when it happens. How can we challenge this natural human bias? I've spent the last couple years digging into "pop" psychology and thinking about how books like "Thinking Fast and Slow", "Antifragile", "Drive", "Blink", and "Outliers" apply in a software development environment. I'm most excited about this idea that if we can make failure "safe" then we can use it to learn things that we would otherwise be tempted to avoid and ignore because it might go badly. A focus on failure, both deliberate and accidental, has been beneficial in moving my projects beyond the no defects, 100% test coverage type focus and towards finding innovative ways to detect and quickly reverse failure. This is not a perseverance, "Fail fast" or failure-fetish message, but more around the idea that failure is as good as success if your goal is to improve - so stop avoiding it! My ideal outcome is to get people talking about this idea of failing purposefully and see where it goes.