Move Slowly and Don’t Break Stuff: Learning from Product Design Failures

Sofia Quintero
Jan 31 · 8 min read

Familiarity Breeds Contempt

One of the most insidious dangers of the hacker way is that too much failure can create complacency among your team. When product teams no longer fear failure, it can directly affect your team’s drive to create high-quality work.

Proving Hypotheses Correctly Takes Time

Another problem with the hacker approach to product development is that proving your ideas rigorously and with confidence takes time. There’s simply no getting around it.

Failing Fast Impedes Learning

Failing fast allows teams to move quickly and rapidly iterate on emerging ideas. But one downside of this speed of development is that it can encourage a culture in which product managers and their teams fail to learn from their failures. Over time, this can result in wasted effort and avoidable mistakes.

  • The Bystander Effect: The phenomenon by which we’re much less likely to take action to solve a problem if several people on our team have also noticed the problem
  • Pluralistic ignorance: The assumption that everything is fine because nobody else has flagged a problem as a potential issue

Failure is the Best Teacher

Despite the punk rock attitude of moving fast and breaking things, all agile methodologies, user-centered product design processes, and lean startup frameworks adhere to established scientific methods. In scientific research, failure is an inevitable outcome, but it’s useful only if scientists can learn from those failures. Anything else is just wasted time and effort.

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Sofia Quintero

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Hungry for Insight

A community for product people leading change