Fail Early

I once had a CIO who had a five core principles of business and one of them  was “Fail Early”.  I learn this lesson over and over.

The entire Agile software development process is based on this.  I’ve often seen the success of showing early results “Is this what you meant?” to get a Yes, or way more importantly, a No.  So easy to change course early, if you just get that feedback!  So much harder if not.

Nowhere, perhaps, is this more applicable than to driving when  lost!  Why not find out if I am or I am not where I think I am, way before I go even farther in the wrong direction?

In my car, I have two separate devices to tell me how lost I am, and to get me found.  Sure, they don’t always work in the wilds of the places I drive, but they definitely don’t work when I don’t ask them!

It’s nice to putter around back roads when that’s the intention.  But I’ve learned (or I’m fixin’ to learn) that when I am really trying to get somewhere, it’s important to know if I’m driving in the right direction.  Or not.

Own Up / Move On

I just learned a valuable lesson from a distant colleague: In the face of unrelenting criticism for a specific deed (or lack thereof), just confess and get on with things.

We were on our way to spending approximately forever, with 50+ people on the call, on the reasons why something wasn’t done.  Then E (let’s call her E) said “Hey – that’s on my list and I haven’t done it yet.  My bad. I’ll get to it as soon as I can” and the discussion was OVER.  The reasons really didn’t matter.  And on to other things.

Go E!

Listen Up & Lighten Up

Lessons come from everywhere.  This journey is about hearing them and learning from them.

When I get advice to not take my customer’s requirements to heart so much, that’s valuable.  It’s great to care, it’s great to want to do the right thing, but there is always reality to balance against at the same time.

I have always listened to and honored my customer.  I have always been an advocate for my customers, sometimes referred to as “users”  (Debbie has pointed out that only I.T. people and drug dealers call their customers “users”)  But perhaps it’s also valuable to to lighten up.

This advice was particularly valuable as it came from the customer herself!

Or Not

Almost exactly one year later, one of my favorite sources is repeating a quote, and this time my reaction is completely different:

On June 23, 2010 I posted, without comment:

“Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.”

Winston Churchill via

That was a particularly dark time for me, and I liked the idea of some kind of valor in my serial failure.  Courage?  Sounded good to me.

But now, one year later I don’t feel that way at all.  It’s not about going from failure to failure with a good attitude.  I am much more interested in going from failure to success, from sadness to happiness, from darkness to light.

I do realize that this is about the journey, the process, the “now” of it all, and this this is a big circle or spiral, not a line.  But the next time I am in a hole, I want to be about getting out, not about decorating the space.

Shift to Neutral

I love coincidence.  Or cosmic alignment.  Or grace.  Or whatever you choose to call it.  The blurb, below, titled “Shift to Neutral”, came into my email inbox just as I was appreciating an amazing time of watching pieces fall into place, in a work setting, just by not acting, by being quiet, by truly watching and letting things happen as they need to happen.

For those of us who want to DO, the doing may be shifting,  Shifting to not doing.

In this case, I learned that I had already done that, and that it was awesome.

The article below is more about how to downshift to quiet in a specific setting, the start of a yoga practice, and that’s good to learn too,

From Yoga Journal:

Shift to Neutral

When do you practice yoga? For many of us who attend classes during the work week, our practice has to fit into whatever time is available, whether that’s before work in the morning, during our lunch break, or after work in the evening. And those of us who don’t work at a formal job still must balance many activities during our busy days.

So how do you bridge the gap between your frantic life and the peace and calm of the studio?

If you find yourself impatient at the start of your practice, anxious for something to happen, just recognize that you’re bringing some of that outside mentality into the classroom. Once you see what you’re doing, mentally reach inward and downshift your gears. If you’re in overdrive, downshift to fourth gear, then third, second and finally neutral. Relax inside, breathe deeply and savor the way it feels.

What Sally Learned from Oprah

This is from my favorite blog, Sally and the City:

” Lessons learned from Oprah

Over the year, I’ve watched, read, and ignored Oprah.  Here’s what I’ve learned from her:

  1. It’s ok to make yourself the center of attention.  If the magazine is named after you, take that chance to put yourself on every cover!  Seriously!  If you don’t grab it, someone else will take your spotlight.
  2. Leverage your job to help your friends.  Of Oprah’s friends, I love Rachael Ray the most.  But I also just appreciate the idea of helping your pals achieve their goals, even if it means you have to find a new host for that segment.  (Or a new Senator for Illinois…)
  3. Use your power to make good changes.  In this case, I care about the way Oprah brought new voters to the polls in 2008 and made reading cool with her book club.  Speaking of which…
  4. Hold people accountable.  I just finished reading A Million Little Piecesto see what all the controversy was about, and WOW that book should not have been marketed as a memoir.
  5. It is better to give than to receive.  Let me just say, no one likes giving things away as much as this chick does.  I’ve never seen someone so excited about getting a car, nevermind giving one.  And I watch a lot of “The Price is Right” so that’s saying something.
So long, Oprah, and thanks for the memories.”