Saturday, January 4, 2014

Fail Faster - Profindity

I think I have found my new motto, "Fail faster." How can I find a solution to a problem? Find and try everything I can think of as quickly as possible. What ever does not work gets thrown out and the best of the solutions that work get kept and aired out.

I first heard this from a Vimeo post by during their ALS Summit a few months ago. I was put onto this by my son watching Steve Gleasons's Saints when he told me that Steve was answering and posting tweets during the game between the Saints and the Eagles in Philadelphia. Being the curious sort, and somewhat vaguely aware of ALS, especially knowing that Steven Hawking is disabled due to "something like" ALS. Yes, I am ignorant, Steven Hawking is, after some searching, also afflicted by ALS. I searched around for Steve Gleason and found his website along with his wife's PSA about him and the organization, I watched a bit of the summit's introductions and was immediately stuck by the profound statement of Walter O'Brien of Scorpion Computer Services. He explains that in computer science, the secret to success is to "fail faster" where he implies the two week "sprint" that you hear about in so many bleeding edge development strategies. I don't subscribe to any particular development strategy per se; however, I can agree completely with cutting you loses early and moving on.

Mr. O'Brien also talks about how anything he works on is new, because, "if it was already done, we would have used the previous system." This is the world I tend to live in with my work. Granted, I do work on projects which require me to maintain equipment to keep the process running; however, many of the things I do enable engineers to accomplish tasks and build things in a way that has never been done before. Now I do not profess to actually know anything; however, what I do have is a broad range experience. I draw on previous experience and build on that to accomplish great things. Which is pretty cool. My favorite projects to date involve working with glass. Whether that be in the form of optical fiber, or thin sheets of glass used in information displays.

Now, I have to admit that I have fallen into the rut of taking a part of a system that is not well suited to the application and working through the problems to "just make it work" without considering that there may be a better solution. Therefore, I am committing to work smarter and identify ways to "fail faster" and get to the best solution to the problem before me instead of wasting my and my customer's time in trying to make a sub-optimal solution work.

Fail Faster, indeed.