I always end the year by writing about my accomplishments, failure, regrets and resolutions. I love this time of year because the calendar naturally moves me to reflect and take action. This post is all about 2017 failure.
My biggest failure was GlitchPath. It was a start-up focused on preventing project failure that failed. I know you think that’s ironic — just like rain on your wedding day feels ironic — but it’s not. Failure in the start-up world is typical, and I used my little web app to decided that it was time to press pause and invest my time and money elsewhere.
But make no mistake about it, GlitchPath was a failure.
Did I learn a lot while failing? Sure. People have specific problems and challenges in the workplace, but they’re not always honest about it. When you use a tool like a premortem and work backward to identify better solutions, you see that the world of work is fucked up for a lot of reasons. Mostly, current-day corporate processes (and culture) are built on the ruins of other failed endeavors.
Work is just like Millennium Tower in San Francisco. Have you heard about that building? It’s a skyscraper that’s tilting, which is a horrible thing in an earthquake zone. Excavate underneath, and you quickly learn that the foundation isn’t secure. The building rests on heaps of trash from neighborhoods destroyed in previous earthquakes.
What’s worse is that everybody knows it, and if you work backward, you learn that time and money stood in the way of anchoring the foundation into the bedrock. Now, there are no simple options on how to fix it.
That’s your work environment. While the people closest to a problem are the ones who often have the best solutions, they are, largely, disempowered and unable to fix things. If they work backward to identify solutions, it’s a shitshow.
So that sucks.
GlitchPath can’t make someone take a stand against corporate dysfunction, and there’s no ten-point plan to being brave and bold in the face of hegemonic corporate power run amok. There’s you and your conscience. That’s it.
So my biggest failure of 2017 was a true failure. It also wasn’t the end of the world. I hope 2018 brings all of us the opportunity to fail in new and more exciting ways!