Over the years I encountered many good mistakes and failures that has helped me mature either through my own modest ignorance or at someone else’s expense. When we hear words such as “mistake” or “failure”, we have a tendency of immediately entrenching a negative perception in our minds.
We all know the common clichés of failures since you cannot read for more than 2-3 minutes on any blog site without seeing an inspirational quote that either tries to make us feel good about our own failures or not be afraid to embrace them. Of course we have to first acknowledge the 500 lb. Gorilla of Ignorance in the room either voluntary or involuntary. Neglecting to become acquainted with the pain of acquiring necessary knowledge is voluntary ignorance. On the other hand when ignorance is not of choice, it cannot be overcome by the use of any means of knowledge that is known within a person’s power, that’s involuntary.
Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely.”
~ Henry Ford
I haven’t come across any books or ground breaking architecture laws that helped me during my tribulations of failures so I established my own laws to help others. I’m sure we could add much more to this list so feel free to let me know if I missed one. I will continue to add to this list in the future so stay tuned!
- Fail Early and Often
Time and time again you have heard from inspirational folks that making mistakes and not being afraid of failures is a good thing. Not going to disagree here however I will say it is true only if not voluntarily allowing ignorance to guide this thought process. From an Architect viewpoint, I like to find ways for an application or a solution to fail before it hits the “market”. If it fails first with only myself experiencing it then I have that opportunity to address it before outside perception perceives it as a failure versus success. Since projects that deliver products or services are judged on relative success, it’s important to really understand those factors such as, “What’s the goals and strategy for the business?”, “Will the product or service make us profit or cause loss?”, and “Is there a better product out there?” Being able to answer these questions would help approach the limitations of capabilities, compromises, gaps, or even prevention of technology debt. The challenge sometimes is that project managers must meet deadlines and not exceed the budget, so they may not desire for these things to surface as they want to be perceived as having “success”. If this is becomes driver then we end up with the Special Olympics of services. At least that way everyone can be a winner, except for the consumers of that service. So don’t be afraid to break it early and often!
1. Building “IIIIT” – Credibility
Influence, Ideation, Identity, Integrity, Trust. All great one word wonders of gaining credibility. Ever remember a time that you spent countless and thankless hours of engaging in a project activity that you felt so passionate about and that no way it could fail? If an organization doesn’t trust your integrity then how do you expect to influence business decisions with having a negative brand? Spite can bite!
Be able to think outside the box with creativity with no fear of rejection and do not be afraid to reach out to others for their ideas (crowd-sourcing). Remember, others have failed at the same thing.
If you find yourself on the outskirts of having credibility then I suggest starting out by simply showing more care and concern for people nearest to you regardless of title. It sounds crazy however it really worked for me even if I had no knowledge of an area. Being the smartest in the room isn’t important as being the one who cares about adding value. I owe this learning experience to @Dane Bamburry.
2. Power of our Thoughts
We become what we think about most. This is an extremely powerful instrument and too many case studies out there showing proof. Our thoughts are alive. Charles Haanel stated “thought power is the vibratory force formed by converting static mind into dynamic mind”. Each time a specific thought is entertained, a very specific and equivalent frequency or energy vibration is emitted. If you go into a situation with anger or negative emotions, others pick this up energy and can take your interactions in a much different direction versus the contrary. Think “Win-Win” is what I incorporate from the “7 habits of a highly effective person”.
Remember when someone says “That’s the way we always done it”, think to yourself, “Not all thoughts are created equal” so don’t get caught in that trap of ignorance. That’s unless it’s a design pattern.
3. Design Patterns
This is something that has single handily save me more meetings, emails, and awkward conversations more than any other area of architecture. I first was introduced to this by learning the TOGAF 9.1 framework which refers to Solution Building Blocks (SBB). Need an example? Glad you asked! In one year with just one design pattern has saved 40+ firewall rules, 40+ Load Balancer configurations, 80+ IP Addresses, and 20 different approvals for a common set of principles. Now the firewall and networking teams have less confusion and information to sort out each iteration of a deployment. Even the Enterprise Architects don’t mind being seen at lunch with me outside the ivory tower.
4. Ask better Questions
There’s no science here while it is amazing that being persuasive through asking quality questions rather than through argument is the high road. Want to make someone defensive quickly, argue with them on something they are trying to influence. It took me quite some time to understand this and always improving as I go. It’s much easier to tell someone there idea stinks rather than taking time to think about what quality questions to ask. This means first caring enough to be an active listener in order to know what this person is about and what makes them tick. This builds a foundation for asking deeper non-superficial questions. So, don’t stop asking questions until the answers become interesting or stumbling upon a discovery of hidden opportunities. You never know what kind of friends you can make or lifetime opportunity arises simply from asking caring questions.
Laughing at our mistakes can lengthen our own life. Laughing at someone else’s can shorten it.
– Cullen Hightower