In order to stay relevant organizations need to constantly reinvent themselves and develop offers and solutions that cater to the needs of the consumers. They are realizing that shipping out a product and getting immediate consumer feedback is much better than waiting to first build that perfect product. This coined the term “Fail fast”.

While both the traditional and the new approaches have their pros and cons, iterating and failing fast is a better way to build and move ahead, especially in our times where the uncertainty quotient is much more than ever seen in the past and organisations across the board are forced to be more nimble-footed than before.

“In today’s organizations, teams all too often come from similar backgrounds – academically and socially. Not always are the team members solving for problems of backgrounds for which they have experiential knowledge e.g., farmers. Hence, solving for their backgrounds from the confines of a conference room is sub-optimal. Failing fast allows one to seek consumer feedback early on and thereby bake in feedback of the people who really matter – the end consumer,” said S Anjani Kumar, Partner, Deloitte India.

Reinventing and Iterating with failing fast

The whole philosophy of fail-fast approach is to look for initial signs of success and identify potential failure at an early stage so that ‘scale-up’ and ‘pull the plug’ decisions can be taken in a time-effective and cost-effective manner. When a team adopts a fail-fast approach, it is not only assigned with creating/building, planning and executing but also entrusted with looking for signals of success and failure. This essentially means that they need to think through at every stage, and therein lies the learning.

“Honestly, when a team or an organisation gets attuned to iterations and fail-fast philosophy and embeds the approach in its journey, “failure” becomes an integral part of the whole process, and as such doesn’t remain failure in the true sense of the term. It becomes a step or an incidence which may or not occur and only helps in calibrating and course correction. It is akin to running an experiment where you keep tweaking around with the ingredients until you arrive at a formula that delivers desired results,” said Arpanarghya Saha, Chief Digital Officer, Nippon India Mutual Fund.

Nippon India Mutual Fund’s objective has been to transform the company into an agile and nimble-footed organisation that can cater to the diverse needs of such tech-savvy consumers. In this Digital age, the company not only sees itself as a Mutual Funds and Asset Management company but also as a new age Fintech enterprise that helps individuals and entities achieve their financial goals, irrespective of their state of Digital evolution or tech maturity.

“At the core of our transformation has been the approach we have put in place to build our ever-evolving consumer centric digital solutions and platforms. We believe that anything that we create will be in a state of perpetual beta and will always remain in a cycle of invention and reinvention,” Saha added.

Benefits of fail fast

Amplify AI, a conversational AI platform set out to create a new product category using cutting edge AI and machine learning tech. The company laid out a roadmap that started with some assumptions with a plan to test them. The test results gave the teams a direction for the next set of assumptions and tests. The company repeated that cycle until it had a product and service that solved a market problem. This approach has let them build a product at a small fraction of the traditional process followed by software startups.

“In the beginning, it allowed us to dramatically reduce our time to market, but as our service matured, it allowed us to use the learning from a platform like Facebook, to test assumptions on a new platform like Twitter or Google. What took a year to develop on the first platform could be done in under three months on the second platform,” said Manoj Malhotra, Co-Founder and CTO at

Failing fast also enhances the chances of success and improves efficiency by reducing spends on non-working products. Failures and the ability to overcome them fast and moving ahead with alternatives gives birth to Innovation and Invention

Tips to tap the full potential of failing fast

To genuinely benefit from this approach, enterprises need to adopt the following principles:

1. Be true to oneself – If it fails, accept it. Do not be in denial and continue pursuing it

2. Introspect from the failure – Understand why it went wrong and codify these learnings for others.

3, Embrace failure – As an organization do not look down upon failure or try assigning blame for it.

Failing without learning from mistakes is a failure in itself. To make the ‘Fail fast’ approach work for businesses, leaders and teams need to carefully analyze the situation and come up with learnings.

“I believe failing fast without learning fast is meaningless. If one is unwilling to analyze, learn and incorporate this into future roll-outs then the whole point of failing fast is lost. Failure by itself is not the end outcome of the exercise. As mentioned before, organizations who can introspect and learn from failures are the ones who will benefit from such an approach,” Kumar said.

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