If good design requires failure, how can designers f*ck up when failure isn’t considered an option?
Edison famously said, "I failed my way to success." In the interactive world, we've all heard the buzz phrases about failing fast, and how failure--particularly in the form of prototyping--can be a powerful design tool. But what about real failure? We've all experienced projects that never got off the ground, or crashed and burned stunningly. We don't put them in our portfolios. We only talk about them when we've had one drink too many. What can we learn from our embarrassments? And are there really things we can learn by failing, especially in the agency and consulting worlds, where we are hired for our expertise, and infallibility?
Questions to think about:
Can there be actual power, and knowledge in failure? What is your biggest failure, and what did you learn from it?
What are the different ways you can fail? Have you ever had a "successful" project that was a personal failure? Why? What can you learn from it?
Why are we so afraid of failing? What are the negative consequences of failure? And how can we encourage a positive viewpoint on failure?
How can we pull victory from the flames of defeat? How do you not panic when you sense yourself failing? How can you use your failure to inform future successes?
How can we build an acceptance of failure into a design or consulting practice? How can we get away from always having to be right, and move towards creative adaptability?
TOWARDS A F*CK UP M@N1F3STØ
How do we incorporate f*cking up into
the user experience design process?
standing for profanities,
appearing in dialogue
balloons in place of actual
dialogue. Invented by
American cartoonist Mort
One Reality of Failure
Setup: Huh was a 22-year-old journalism major when he moved to
Chicago and founded software analytics ﬁrm Raydium in January
2000... he cobbled together $750,000 over two rounds.
"Uh-oh" moment: Eighteen months later, he hit a wall. "You're hopeful
to the end, but we were ﬂat out of money and couldn't meet payroll,"
he says... For two weeks, he says, he could barely leave his room.
The way out: Six years passed before Huh decided to buy I Can Haz
Cheezburger and begin building his funny-blog empire... "You know
how painful it can be, but you do it anyway," he says. "I think you are
better prepared, mentally and ﬁnancially, but you never know if it's
going to be successful. That's called maturity.”
But ultimately, he succeeded...
Failure is Fine
For entrepreneurs & startups
When it’s a means to an ends
When overcoming an obstacle adds to a success story
When the risk of failure is assumed & accepted by the $
! When the creator has longevity, endurance, and sticks
with the project
! When you learn from it
For consultants & agencies
When it’s the ﬁnal word
When you can’t see see past the obstacle
When asses need to be covered
When the designer doesn’t or can’t stick it out
When you can’t learn from it
Failure Is The Heart of Creativity
Failure is awesome/acceptable when we call it:
When it fuels us
When we don’t fear it, or fear it, but don’t shy away from it
When it leads us to do something no one’s ever done before
When we learn from it
I Risk Failure
When I play music:
• Will I keep time, hit the right notes, play “right”?
When I get on stage or in front of a camera:
• Will they laugh at me? Or not laugh with me?
When I write:
• Will anyone read it? Do I have anything to say?
When I run workshops:
• Will any of you really care about any of this?
Because I Risk Failure I Gain Experience
I learn new things & have new experiences
I ﬁnd new joys
I meet new people
I do things I’ve never done before
I make movies, play music, act, write, run workshops
I lose fear
I take more risks—even risk the next failure
And, consequentially, I get better at creating
Hard, Yes, But I Can Do It!
Just not always in constructive/creative ways...
• I fail because I’m afraid to take risks
• I fail because I “show oﬀ” through over design
• I fail because I take feedback as an indictment
In short, I fail because I’m afraid
How Are You Afraid to Fail?
• I’m afraid to be wrong
• I’m afraid to lose control
How about you?
F*CK UPS ANONYMOUS
Let’s change our relationship to
failure—make failure an
accepted part of our process.
Let’s share our F*CK UPS.