27 August 2009


You might have heard the saying "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." Here's a different twist on it:

"If you don't plan to fail, you've failed to plan."

As I've said elsewhere, failure is inevitable. It shouldn't be a surprise that things don't work out the way we'd hoped. So, rather than trying to prevent and avoid all failures, we should have a plan to deal with it, learn from it, respond to it.

In The Mythical Man Month, Brooks writes that software programmers should "plan to throw one away." That sounds like planning for failure to me. I think it's a pretty good idea.

1 comment:

Pete said...

I saw a great example of this recently. I work in an organization that develops future plans. I was reading one the other day and after 50 pages of explaining what path the organization should take, why, and listing all the studies that support it, it then went into a detailed explanation of what to do when the preferred way is shown to not work or fail.
The authors were the ones who chose the preferred path to follow yet they were humble enough to admit the whole thing might not work out and they provided some "off ramps" for other courses of action. I thought it was great.