Maximize the Failure Rate

This is a reminder to myself.  It’s about failure, which is a paradoxically fantastic thing if you have the right attitude.  Let me describe the attitude I am working to gain.

  • If you fail three times in a week, make a goal of trying (and possibly failing) five times the next week.  Failure is the right thing as long as you’re trying sincerely and the rate of failures is increasing, or you’re failing less each time.
  • You won’t succeed at really complex things until you’ve failed a lot first, so your best bet is to fail as fast as possible.  Enjoy the journey!
  • Mere repetition isn’t sufficient.  After each failure, try something significantly different.
  • Report and graph the failures.  Talk about them.  Things that get reported tend to improve.
  • Goals need to be simple, but some goals are inherently complex.  You can simplify a goal by maximizing the rate of failing to achieve the goal.
  • If rapid iterations of failure are not possible due to circumstances outside your control, fail in parallel!  Try many things at once.  Don’t forget to report on all of the failures.
  • When you finally do succeed, continue to try other things.  In other words, keep failing!

This is particularly applicable to small business.  Discouragement resulting from failures can spread like a disease.  However, the “maximize the failure rate” attitude can make you immune to that kind of discouragement.

Wrong attitude: “We failed.  Maybe we should give up.”

Right attitude: “We failed again?  Ye-haw, that means success is closer!  Now how can we fail faster (or less expensively) next time?”

Save the Art!

My sister, Maria, is an excellent artist.  Her paintings make you sit up and think about how people feel.  Her art captures life better than a photograph.

But what does she do when a piece doesn’t fit her high quality standards?  Not long ago, she finished a fine painting of a cowboy.  Everyone liked it, but Maria said the eyes were too big.  Ok, maybe the eyes were a bit larger than normal, but does that justify what she did next?

A little bit of the history of an important artist is gone for good.

Unabashed Dorky Enthusiasm about Willowrise

It turns out I am supposed to unleash my inner dork.  In other words, I should write about my passion.

I am passionate about building a family business.  That’s what Willowrise is.  We have plenty of skills and talent, but we’re still working out how to present our skills to the world.  We’re certainly not a retail shop, yet that’s what our current home page makes us out to be.  We’ll probably always have an online retail shop, but that should not be our main focus.

As a business, we want to build on each other’s talents and create expressive things.  Much of our business so far has been independent of each other, even though we are a tightly knit family and we work together well.  We are looking for projects that exercise our combined talents.  Some ideas:

  • Instructional design (could be a perfect fit)
  • Outdoor games (not video games–we want to encourage people to play outside!)
  • Hmm, we need more ideas!

We have created and sold many great pieces of art, the excellent Dayspring CD, some cool web sites, some software, and even some hand-made flutes, but these have mostly been individual efforts.  Working together is what we really want to do.