Intelligent fast failure for innovation

Jack Matson, the author of the book Innovate or Die, set out the philosophy of intelligent fast failure. First he observed his students, then entrepreneurs, and he realized that the innovation process involved an incredible number of failures. But each failure becomes a learning experiment, and it provides knowledge that can quickly result in new ideas. So, failures are knowledge building blocks in fully understanding how to succeed and to innovate. Each element of the concept is explained by Matson (1992, p. 35) as follows:

  • “Intelligent” means that when you take a risk you want to learn as much as possible about what happened and why it happened, by gathering feedback. “Intelligent” also means the risk is attempted in such a way that not many resources (time and money) are lost if it fails. 
  • “Fast” means that risk is accelerated so that you know what happened quickly.
  • “Failure” means that you should not expect most plans to work out. Most will, in fact, fail; but it is through the process of failure that you acquire the knowledge of the partial truths which will enable you to develop successful risks.

In other words, creative breakthroughs are based on a foundation of knowledge acquisition, acquisition that is done through failures (experiments), as necessary components of the learning process.

Do you want to learn more about intelligent fast failure philosophy? We recommend reading Jack Matson’s book – Innovate or Die (1996):
or this article that summarizes the philosophy of intelligent fast failure:  S. Tahirsylaj, “Stimulating creativity and innovation through Intelligent Fast Failure”, in Thinking Skills and Creativity, 7 (2012), pp. 265–270;
or read this book, that we also quoted here, written by the same Jack Matson in 1992: The art of innovation: Using intelligent fast failure.