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Iterative Design: The 4 F's


Of course success is the goal, but success through luck is not reproducible. Failure along with success teaches us the reality of the world and allows us to better predict successful actions in the future. If you try something and luck out, you don't know WHY it worked. You can try to reproduce those exact conditions, but you don't know which conditions are important and which are not.

More than that, you have to CARE enough to TRY even though you may FAIL. The willingness to fail shows motivation.

What is your motivation for being here? Write it down.


Take on the hardest, least known, parts of any job first. The last thing you want to do is complete all the easy stuff, only to find that the hard parts are undoable. This is a critical error which is common in business, design, and life. Can you see how a fear of failure would (mis)guide a person to make this error?

Can you share a time when you turned away from trying something that you felt was simply too difficult, scary, or likely to result in failure? If you aren't comfortable doing that, can you admit that your lack of comfort is informed by a fear of failure?

Think of a major goal you have in life. Write down what you think is the most difficult part of that goal.


Make small, incremental, steps towards the larger goal, testing after each step to look for failures. Failing fast means you can fail a lot and that means you will stop failing and succeed faster. Rapid development cycles are the key to rapid progress.

This is the opposite of procrastination. Can you share your favorite activity to do instead of making progress on your goals?

Making small attempts quickly is also a great way to avoid the fear of failure, and the need for perfection.

Dans ses écrits, un sage Italien Dit que le mieux est l'ennemi du bien. -- Voltaire. (In his writings, a wise Italian says that the best is the enemy of the good)

"A man's reach should exceed his grasp." Words from a poem by Robert Browning,


Once you have failed enough, you know exactly how to fix new failures when you see them. Experience is the result of many many failures.

Success without experience leads to "Impostor Syndrome" which is the feeling of being a fraud and an irrational fear of anyone finding out how unsure you are. People who have this issue are very easy to see. They can never admit what they don't know, or that they have made any mistake, no matter how small.

Please proudly document your failures, and what you've learned from them, as well as your successes.

"My high school chemistry teacher always put questions on the tests that he didn't expect us to be able to answer. When we objected, his reasoning was that you can not measure a thing with a ruler that is shorter than the thing you are measuring."

See also:

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