Experimentation, Failing Fast, and the magic of ‘Giving It A Go’

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Fail fast. It’s a startup mantra. It speaks to risk-taking, but more pertinently, it speaks to experimentation. Try something new; if it doesn’t work, try something else new. And for heaven’s sake, don’t let the fact that you’ve never seen it before stop you from just giving it a go. 

Working for an organisation that counts “Be Bold, Be Original” as one of its core values, I’ve had to become intimate with the concept of experimentation and overcoming the fear of failure and publicly admitting that something you tried didn’t work. It doesn’t come naturally; I am a planner, a researcher, and a perfectionist. These traits are certainly not incompatible with experimentation, but often we think them to be.

Being given permission to experiment is crazy liberating, though. Having the freedom to know that you can try something weird and different and that your bosses will support you doing so doesn’t just lead to great outcomes… it’s also FUN. That can be anything from turning half the kitchen into whiteboard surfaces (did not work) to launching a weekly seminar (worked!) to DIY-ing an acoustic solution for a meeting room (verdict still pending). On a larger scale, The Printroom was a massive exercise in experimentation - there was certainly no roadmap for a coworking operator to brand and run a fine art printer, but we figured there were probably a few ways to do it, and away we went. And it’s the singular reason why every piece of furniture we buy has wheels. 

That’s not to say we make snap decisions and throw money at things. Like validating a product, we put our ideas and potential solutions under a critical lens and do everything we can to assess the likelihood of our desired outcome. What it does mean, though, is that in cases where we just can’t tell or where it seems 50/50, we take the risk. We experiment. We try it on.

The added bonus to trying, failing, and acknowledging those failures, all in full view of our community, is that it fully demonstrates us living the values that we know can be beneficial for our residents to live by as well. Experimenting with acoustic tiles for a meeting room may not be quite the same as pouring your life savings into a startup venture for the first time, but culture and values are upheld in the everyday. So next time you’re unsure of the next step… just try something.

Sarin Moddle is the Community Manager at the BizDojo Auckland. Follow her on Twitter