Failing “soft” is an Option in Agile

Recently, I noticed the following interesting post from BMC’s Paul Beavers: To Be Successful with Agile, Failure is More than an Option, it’s Necessary.

Paul highlights: “Failure from time to time is expected – trying, assessing, and adjusting are not optional”. This correlates with my experience as it’s in the stretching, and occasionally failing, in agile that creates the fastest learning environment and the highest end-result productivity. Of course, it’s best to fail soft rather than to fail hard. What I mean by this is that the rapid iteration cadence provides opportunities to fail soft at the iteration boundaries. These early failures help assure that the bigger and more consequential failure, failure to release, is a much lower probability.

As agile master Alex Yakima once commented while looking at an upcoming release plan and the few remaining iterations, “nope, not enough times to fail“. So we shortened the iterations (down to a few days in one or two cases) and made the release on time.

Editors update: I just saw this sign on the iteration tracking wall in an XP shop:

Fast failure is an option!

Fast failure is an option!


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