Why Failure is More Important than Success

Businesses, leaders and entrepreneurs have long been obsessed with success.

Billions of dollars are made from how-to books, speeches and guides–all glorifying a no-fail path. For a long time, failure was considered the worst of F-words to a company, and “failure is not an option” could be heard echoing down the hallways of the enterprise.

That’s what makes the latest business trend all the more fascinating.

The spotlight that used to shine on success has shifted to success’ evil twin sister… failure. Now, not only is failure an option, it’s the option of choice − celebrated, embraced, even encouraged.

Why Fail Now

“Fail often, fail fast” is likely now the second-most repeated mantra in Silicon Valley (just behind Steve Jobs’ “stay hungry, stay foolish”).

Granted, the most astute visionaries have long understood the importance of failure. Take Thomas Edison, who tried more than 9,000 designs before coming up with a working version of the lightbulb, or Dr. Seuss, whose first book was rejected by 27 different publishers.

Nowadays, the stigma around failure has lessened, and the best business leaders are becoming more and more comfortable with failure:

  • Nine out of ten startups fail, according to Forbes.
  • Using agile software development practices, many engineers quite literally “sprint” toward failure.
  • And live events like FailCon and Startup Funeral celebrate tech world failures.

But simply failing frequently is a failure in itself.

In the best fashion of failure, every misstep is considered a learning opportunity, a way to understand how to effectively translate failing into a future success:

  • The 10 percent of startups that succeed do so because they failed behind the scenes many times, in smaller ways, before − not after − launch, and grew better.
  • Agile development is often considered the new essential for Web and mobile app development, precisely because it encourages quick experiments, failure and, most importantly, the adaptations necessary to achieve success. Agile software development “sprints” help the team find out if there are problems at an accelerated pace and make adjustments as needed. The sooner failures are found, the less time – and money – is wasted.
  • Conferences that celebrate failure do so to recast the notion of failure and encourage knowledge sharing. Events like FailCon and Startup Funeral show the tech world that it doesn’t need to bury its failures silently; instead, it should eulogize them, learn from them and fail better next time.

Failing Smarter

The challenge for leaders is just that: failing smart. The best business decision makers will harness failure. They’ll recognize that there is no point in failing (whether it be often, small, fast, forward or any which way), if you fail to learn.

Businesses are steadily moving into a software-only world, and software development kits give companies the tools to quickly write apps to solve fundamental business pain points. Rather than paying a vendor millions of dollars to stand up massive, proprietary software projects, small teams can build apps quickly, test them with users, measure success and iterate on what they’ve learned.

That’s the opportunity inherent in Avaya Engagement Development Platform, the software development kit that embeds business communications in virtually any workflow automation app.

Consider these use cases:

  • A large, nationally-recognized university launched a parking payments app that will send a text message to the student when his or her parking is about to expire. Engagement Development Platform was embedded inside, and powered the text message.
  • A large sales team had a challenge—their salespeople would get calls from numbers they hadn’t saved on their smartphones. The salespeople would pick up the phone cold, and spend the first 15 seconds trying to figure out who was calling them, and why. Engagement Development Platform linked those incoming calls with the company’s cloud-based CRM system, pushing relevant customer information to the salesperson. Now, they could pick up the phone with a warm greeting and the context they needed to be successful.
  • Avaya recently won a Thomas Edison Patent Award for Innovation for an application that permanently eliminates the need to dial long strings of numbers to get into a conference call. That capability is currently available inside Engagement Development Platform as a “Snap-in”—a modular, reusable snippet of code that’s easy to embed in any app.

Engagement Development Platform is simple, powerful and automatically preconfigured for scalability, enabling faster, more flexible development cycles.

That flexibility empowers our customers — from universities to approximately 95 percent of Fortune 500 companies — to fail forward quickly. Engagement Development Platform shortens time-to-innovation and time-to-business, allowing Avaya to act as a catalyst to its customers’ success.