Agility and Fear of Failure

We’ve likely all heard the famous line from Gene Kranz of NASA:  “Failure is not an option” with respect to the Apollo 13 space mission, right?  Well, most of us aren’t in a position where we are needing to navigate 3 people in a tiny, crippled craft back to Earth from the moon.  Many of us are writing business software.  Totally different challenge. 

In an agile mindset, failure is an option.  In fact, we should embrace the fact that we will fail…and when we fail, we want to fail fast

However, it is human nature to fear failure.  We all fear failure, both in our professional and personal lives.  I know I do.  What it is important to work towards, especially when working within the boundaries of Scrum, is learning that without failure you remain stagnant and possibly regress.  Without taking risks or pushing yourself and the team to try something new and different, you aren’t getting better, and you aren’t being truly agile.  After all, true agility is, at its core, about continuing to change and refine the way we work to improve it on all fronts – and this means taking risks on occasion to experiment with new ways of working.  If we let the fear of failure keep us from taking risks to improve, we are missing out on what agile can bring to us and our customers. 

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