Failure: Learning From Your Mistakes (and Ours)

Adaptive Path

38 minutes, 17.8mb, recorded 2006-08-14
Lane Becker, Amanda Willoughby, Jeff Veen, Ryan Freitas

Many Adaptive Path projects have been successes, such as the recent acquisition of Measure Map by Google. But in each successful career happened mistakes that led to an understanding how not to be successful. Leading heads of Adaptive Path give examples how projects went wrong because of their personal mistakes. But, best of all, you also get to hear what they learned from that failure. You can understand by example what they understood by painful failure.

One of the biggest mistakes, already addressed by the existence of this panel, is not allowing people to communicate failure. Where failure is non-existent, less questions are asked. Some failures might even be inevitable, such as bold goals in an early stage of the project. They might never be reached in time, but they help you to get started.

Communication can be a source of mistakes in software projects. There is always the danger of not listening to critics or warnings. But, maybe even worse, you might be listening to the wrong people. Or you might be talking to the wrong people. The panel encourages to cultivate criticism, communicate in the open and identify the true stakeholders before too much work and money has been spent. Furthermore, they arrive at statements some might find too bold for everyday business, but could pay off in the long term: Do not take over every project. Instead, develop guidelines other than earning money that help you decide. You can also try to consider the emotional attachments some stakeholders might have to the status quo.

Lane Becker is a founding partner of Adaptive Path. Since 1995, Lane has guided companies, from startup stage to Fortune 100, in designing Web sites that integrate user goals and business objectives. Recent clients include NPR, PBS, Princess Cruises, McGraw-Hill, the National Gallery of Art, and the United Nations.

Amanda Willoughby is a design strategist for Adaptive Path. She's worked with a number of organizations, such as Intel Architecture Labs and Schwab Capital Markets, and has developed successful software designs for multimedia and e-commerce applications.
Amanda received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Oregon. Her interests include the psychology of innovation and socially responsible uses of technology.

Jeffrey Veen is an internationally sought-after speaker, author, and user experience consultant. As a consultant, Jeffrey has been involved in designing the leading blog and social media applications on the web, including Blogger, TypePad, Flickr, and more. Previously, Jeffrey served as the Executive Director of Interface Design for Wired Digital and Lycos Inc., where he managed the look and feel of HotWired, the HotBot search engine, and others.

Ryan Freitas is a Senior Interaction Designer for Adaptive Path. Before joining AP, he was a freelance information architect and user experience consultant. Clients include Oracle, Flickr, and Six Apart.



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