Learning From Failures

I was having a MSN chat with another Magenic consultant, and the conversation turned to failures. I think failures are so unappreciated in life. People scorn others for failing, and that's the wrong approach. I think you learn more from failing or screwing up than you do when you succeed. That's why I like a book like "Anti-Patterns" or The Daily WTF because they talk about approaches that fail. That way I know how to avoid failures that others have made in the future. But talking about failures is not seen as a good thing because...well, that's equated with not being successful. That's a myth - no one can be 100% succesful with everything they do in life. A more reasoned approach is to learn from failures and make sure those paths are not followed again. However, if you don't know about those miserable approaches, you may just end up going down them yourself, and that's not a good thing either.

That's why I don't like it when people create systems by "happy-pathing" the problem. That's too easy. I don't want to know how to create a cash register system when the customer has a valid credit card that the reader recognizes and the transaction goes through. I want to know how things work when the customer gives me a card that's outdated, or the reader goes up in flames, or the system can't write the transaction to the database. Those will happen, and those are the ones that people remember more. I don't remember any successful purchases; I remember the ones where the cashier was completely baffled by an edge case or an unexpected situation arises.

* Posted at 06.14.2006 07:46:16 AM CST | Link *

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