"Being wrong is a feature, not a bug"

A thoughtful piece from Michael Nielsen on the disruption of the scientific publishing industry includes a lot that’s very relevant to other publishers and media companies. For example:

In conversations with editors I repeatedly encounter the same pattern: “But idea X won’t work / shouldn’t be allowed / is bad because of Y.” Well, okay. So what? If you’re right, you’ll be intellectually vindicated, and can take a bow. If you’re wrong, your company may not exist in ten years. Whether you’re right or not is not the point. When new technologies are being developed, the organizations that win are those that aggressively take risks, put visionary technologists in key decision-making positions, attain a deep organizational mastery of the relevant technologies, and, in most cases, make a lot of mistakes. Being wrong is a feature, not a bug, if it helps you evolve a model that works: you start out with an idea that’s just plain wrong, but that contains the seed of a better idea.

Around here we like to say “fail forward fast,” and it’s an acknowledgement that we will learn much more by trying and doing (and probably failing) than by planning. The real challenge with that is to make those experiments as cheap (financially and otherwise) as possible.

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