Rework: Failure and Planning

Failure is not a rite of passage

We all have heard famous lines that go something like this: "It's okay to fail", "we encourage you to fail", "after all, we learn from our mistakes". According to the authors of Rework, "learning from mistakes is overrated." Failure is a part of life but you don't need to fail to succeed. Failure doesn't equal success. You learn more from succeeding than from failing. "Already-successful entrepreneurs are far more likely to succeed again than those that failed the first time," according to a study by the Harvard Business School. The authors mention, "what do you really learn from mistakes?" You might learn what not do, but it's less valuable than knowing what you should do.

"Success is the expreience that actually counts." -- Rework

Planning is guessing

You are not a fortune-teller so what makes you think your long-term business plan will work as "planned"? The authors call this sort of planning a "fantasy". You do't and can't really account for the unpredictable nature of market conditions, competitors, customers, the economy, etc, in your planning, and so why worship your planning?

"Writing a plan makes you feel in control of things you can't actually control." --Rework

Plans = guesses. Plans put restrictive limits on end up going in a certain directions, well, just because you said you would. "Plans are inconsistent with improvisation," as the authors mention. Sometimes you need to simply go in a new direction just because that's what's needed at that moment. It's good to think about the future, have an outline, and prepare, but don't don't worship the plan.

Big plans are the worst. The bigger the plan, the more arduous it is, the less likely you are to look at it, yet even follow. 

  • Give up on the guesswork.
  • Decide what you are going to do this week, not this year.
  • Figure out the next most important thing and do that. 
  • Make decision right before you do something, not far in advance. 
  • It's ok to wing it.