Tuesday, June 30, 2015

How to Fail Successfully

A “willingness to fail” is probably the scariest difference between a tech-enabled environment and a more political environment. Tech talent’s view on failure stems from how innovation happens. Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Campaigns are risk averse, worrying about their candidate or staff making a gaffe at any moment. This same approach to risk aversion, while sensible for some aspects of the campaign, must be carefully reworked for digital and analytics based operations. Campaigns shouldn’t let perfect be the enemy of good. Failing often, but failing cheaply, is one of the most important lessons campaigns should adopt from the technology world. Otherwise, with a risk-averse oriented strategy, the efficiency gains that come from technology won’t appear. Digital and analytics require constant experimentation, and quite often these experiments fail ...

The ability to accept failure and the humility to try new ideas are ingredients that leads startups to overtake larger incumbents. Campaigns and causes should be constantly iterating on a small scale to explore ideas, anticipating many of them won’t work out.

When Sheryl Sandberg worked at Google, co-founder Larry Page praised her for making a costly mistake for Google. Page said, “I’m so glad you made this mistake because I want to run a company where we are moving too quickly and doing too much, not being too cautious and doing too little. If we don’t have any of these mistakes, we’re just not taking enough risk.” Empower your team to be bold on digital and analytics by trying new ideas with an understanding that failing often and failing cheaply is okay.

Digital Campaign Guide: A Blueprint for a Tech-Driven Organization