Tech Fails

“We all fail every day…"

sutton hoo eyes “The Dig” is a film about ‘Basil Brown’ a self-taught archeaologist that discovered a vast Anglo Saxon burial treasure at Sutton Hoo as Britain was entering the Second World War. Toward the end of the film Basil imparts advice to a young boy angry that his mother is gravely ill & there’s nothing he can do to stop it:

“Robert, we all fail. Every day. There are some things we just can’t succeed at no matter how hard we try. I know it’s not what you want to hear."

As someone who struggles with acronyms and prone to feeling like an imposter when faced with enthused, techno-speaking managers & evangelists, I find these plain, simple words to be oddly comforting.

Stories about failure

Least Wrong

I started my working life as a civil engineer. The job was hard and things rarely went to plan. The challenge was to make difficult and often conflicting requirements ‘least wrong’ in a way that was acceptable and fit-for-purpose rather than strive for a perfection that would never happen and cost the project & the client dearly should we ever try.

Psychological Safety

These days I find myself in the Brave New World of tech startups where evangelists and founders lead us on epic missions to disrupt billion dollar markets using the latest cutting-edge techology. The passion is real but sometimes the proactive enthusiam can seem cult-like than just a group of ordinary people trying to build something extraordinary.

Those less able to rattle off jargon like bullets out of a machine gun can be left feeling like they’re failing. We use phrases like “psychological safety” to give people space where they can open up about their fears, where they’re struggling or if there’s something they just don’t understand but Startups come with many pressures and whilst the intention to give people safe spaces may be genuine all too often it doesn’t feel that genuine to those that need it.

Celebrate failure

It’s almost impossible to build anything without getting things wrong. The stories I remember most from the construction industry were all those “Doh!!!” moments where things went wrong, someone was red-faced for a while and we all pitched-in to get things right again.

Tech fails is less a psychologically safe confessional and more a place to learn, laugh and generally celebrate failure because it’s our imperfections that make us human and that’s a good thing.