Coaches help athletes develop a short memory for mistakes. The goal is that they can move on to the next move and achieve success. Likewise, the leaders Entrepreneurs are often advised to fail quickly and move on. In both cases, the idea is to reorient and start over, all under tremendous continuous pressure - and still produce high-level results.
No major achievements in technology have occurred without a few flaws. The IT professionals with whom we talk advise you to learn from mistakes and apply changes in real time. At the same time, it is necessary to manage risks to avoid results that are difficult to recover.
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So if initial stumbles can lead to success, what were the most memorable and useful mistakes that IT leaders made? Check out the stories of how the first false steps led to positive results in technological leadership.
Neglecting the importance of iteration
Colin Earl, CEO of Agiloft, points out that you can complete all tasks for the delivery of a project or product and still fail.
"It happened when my team was responsible for implementing a corporate system," says Earl. “We completed on time, within budget. And it did everything that users had asked for, exactly as promised. But when they started using it, they realized that what they said they wanted was not what they really needed. Redeploying the system to meet all new requirements and eliminating many of the old ones meant that the project was overdue and over budgeted, and IT took the blame for this failure. ”
Earl points to the positives when making mistakes: benefit later from your own mistakes and learn from others, so you don't have to repeat them.
"There is a wealth of knowledge and accumulated experience about what works and what doesn't, and it is a big mistake to ignore all of that," he explains. “Mistakes are the inevitable result of risk taking and something that leaders must accept as the price of the change needed for success. But the risks must be mitigated or eliminated whenever possible. For example, creating a [minimum viable product] instead of a fully developed product does not reduce the risk of failure. But it ensures that failure occurs quickly and at low cost, so that the overall risk to the organization is much less. ”
Lack of communication with users
Like Earl, Sarah Lahav, CEO of SysAid, remembers a project that had the right elements, but still went wrong, this time because of a missed opportunity to communicate its goal.
“In my early days at SysAid, when I led the customer support team, we launched a chat to speed up assistance to our customers,” recalls Lahav. “We should be ahead of our time - because it was hilarious that so many people didn't understand that the direct messages were for technical support. They thought it was just a new random chat room. People were sending us the strangest messages. We realized that with each new technology, we need to be very specific to label it. We cannot use a popular term for functionality used in other ways. ”
Sukhi Jutla, co-founder of MarketOrders, recommends an iterative approach to technology projects and then running tests in real time.
"Mistakes are a by-product of finding the path to success or, in other words, finding what really works," says Jutla. “It is highly unlikely that you will launch a perfect product, but it is possible to launch a product that is constantly being improved by each user experience. This leads to positive cumulative long-term effects. ”
Jutla found, in his experience, that excessive focus on the initial requirements of a project leads to delays and obsolescence.
“In the past, I spent 7 to 8 months working with the team to identify the necessary requirements, only to discover that, when it came to the real version, many features were already out of date”, he comments. "Try to get a prototype up and running as soon as possible to get feedback from the real world and real users."
Jutla now adopts the methodology scrumbecause it allows realigning goals and plans in real time. "You need to be prepared to fall a few times, run into some obstacles and fail, but knowing that all of this is vital information that you use in your next moves."
Aible CEO Arijit Sengupta agrees that it is important to focus on evolving and improving. "This does not mean that your original idea was a failure," he notes. “You need to incorporate the notion that everything will need to be updated in your DNA. In the AI world, the more effective the model, the faster it changes its behavior and the faster it becomes out of date. This is not a failure. This is just the reality that conditions are constantly changing. ”
Sengupta thinks of it as risk management vs. risk-taking. "You create systems to deal with as much uncertainty as possible, instead of creating systems to avoid risk."
Boiling the ocean
Suresh Sambandam, Kissflow's CEO, discovered at the outset that the company intended to have an interruption plan that would benefit from being too narrowly ambitious.
“When we founded our company, we created software that we believed was unique, but that was difficult for people to understand at that time,” says Sambandam. “We try to create a category - a DIY enterprise application in the cloud - instead of just one product. We didn't realize that it is easy for a big player to create a new category, but not for a startup. We had to change course because of the technological bets we made, like believing that corporate users for self-service would be the future - we proved that we were wrong. ”
Later, the company narrowed its focus on workflow management software and was successful. That said, Sambandam believes that correlating failures with technology success is a mistake. A recent MIT study confirms the belief, arguing that better results come from a focus on learning, not failure.
“It is a tactical approach, not a directional one,” explains Sambandam. “I believe that when you have a clear vision of what you want to do, it doesn't fail quickly. However, along the way, you can try out new techniques and see how they do for your business. If it's not working, try something else. ”
Advance when starting over
In the early days of his company, Dietmar Rietsch, CEO of Pimcore, tried to integrate several software systems before realizing that a new approach was needed.
"We were desperately trying to understand our customers' needs," he recalls. “For years, this has resulted in late-night work, exhaustion of employees, loss of business and countless inefficiencies. Although we faced these challenges from the beginning, we also learned a lot from the solutions that we tried that didn't work and listened to our customers about what they needed. ”
Rietsch realized that the company's software needed a general overhaul to solve the problems. It was time to start over.
“Ultimately, we take a risk and reorient our energies to create our own solution that resolves these flaws, combining interfaces and helping companies keep data under control,” he says. “With this experience of trial and error, I learned how to fail quickly and create my own path to success, instead of waiting for a solution to be delivered to me. The most difficult lesson I learned in my career was to fail a lot and not to fear that failure. ”
Technology for perfection
Sengupta, from Aible, found that the focus on his area of expertise only reached halfway.
"I believe that mistakes can lead to success in IT careers," says Sengupta. “I spent the first decade of my AI career thinking that the accuracy of the model was the most important thing. But I came to realize that an extremely accurate model can destroy business value if you don't consider the company's operational and cost advantages and disadvantages. My focus is on providing business impact with AI, rather than falling into the trap of assuming that the model more accurate must necessarily be the best for all businesses. ”
Force a technical adjustment
Vaclav Vincalek, CEO of Pacific Coast Information Systems, recalls the beginning of his career and a mistake that marked his trajectory.
“I just thought that a certain technology was cool. Because of my enthusiasm for this cutting-edge tool, I pushed it to a customer. I only realized afterwards that it was not suitable for his environment. Fortunately, for the client, his CIO recognized the error quickly and adjusted the progress of the project. ”
The problem? Vincalek did not take into account the business requirements and the company's current IT environment. "Of course, my 'legal' solution would have worked," he says. “But that would also add costs, efforts and risks to IT processes that were not needed. Their CIO listed their reasons why they had taken a different direction and we moved on. ”
It was a lesson that showed that ensuring that the proposed solution and the needs and skills of the client are aligned is essential.
“There will always be new and cool technology out there, but the goal is to choose something that is suitable for the company, so that it can grow. Today, it is an essential part of the strategies that I implement as a CTO for startups and companies. ”
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