October 2011 Archives

After recently hosting Fail Faire DC to great success, I give you the 10 levels of failure as a framework for ICT interventions, with great deference to Jamer Hunt for starting the meme on the types of failures and David Roy for building on it. May you fail at reaching #1.

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  1. Catastrophic failure
    Failure a scale so vast as to encompass the lives and livelihoods of generations to come. Examples: the meltdowns at Fukushima Dai-1 and Chernobyl; building codes in Haiti before January 2010. Possible future catastrophic fails: asteroids, climate change.
  2. Abject failure
    This failure marks you and you may not ever fully recover from it. People lose their lives, jobs, respect, or livelihoods. Examples: British Petroleum's Gulf oil spill; mortgage-backed securities.
  3. Start-up failure
    A big bet backed by money and momentum, that wipes out both when the market shifts or the business model hits reality. Examples: Pets.com; Jumo.org; Solyndra LLC
  4. Structural failure
    It cuts - deeply - but it doesn't permanently cripple your identity or enterprise. Examples: Apple iPhone 4's antenna; Windows Vista.
  5. Glorious failure
    Going out in a botched but beautiful blaze of glory - catastrophic but exhilarating. Example: Jamaican bobsled team.
  6. Epic failure
    This is a failure that brings joy to all and perhaps even fame and stardom for the fail succeeder. Examples: Celebrity antics; Youtube videos of people falling down; FAILblog
  7. Common failure
    Everyday instances of screwing up that are not too difficult to recover from. The apology was invented for this category. Examples: oversleeping and missing a meeting at work; forgetting to pick up your kids from school; overcooking the tuna.
  8. Version failure
    Small failures that lead to incremental but meaningful improvements over time. Examples: Linux operating system; evolution.
  9. Predicted failure
    Failure as an essential part of a process that allows you to see what it is you really need to do more clearly because of the shortcomings. Example: the prototype -- only by creating imperfect early versions of it can you learn what's necessary to refine it.
  10. Opportunity Failure
    The failure to take risks that leaves you wanting and is usually associated with sentences that begin with, "I should have..." Examples: Not buying Apple stock in 2006; Not selling Nokia stock in 2010; Not getting off your butt today.

What fails or failure examples have I left out? Tell me in the comments.

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Fail Faire DC 2011 is a celebration of failure. We will have great speakers with fun, fast, Ignite-style presentations of their professional failures. Audience participation is not only encouraged, it is mandatory! We are all peers and none of us is perfect. Expect much laughter as we navel-gaze at where we have all gone wrong in ICT and international development.

Yet we will LEARN from failure. Failure is no reason to be ashamed, and there is great value in examining our mistakes. So while we encourage irreverence and humor, we will be improving our profession too.

We will have light refreshments to lubricate the conversation and there will be an after-party to continue the celebration. However, an RSVP is mandatory for attendance and space is limited, so sign up today!

Fail Faire DC 2011 Sponsors

Fail Faire DC 2011 will happen on October 13th at the World Bank.Those that RSVP will be sent the specific room location just before the event.

Fail Faire DC 2011 is brought to you by theWorld Bank, Development Gateway, and Inveneo.

Agenda:

  • 6:00pm: Welcome and drinks
  • 6:30pm: #FAIL-Slam
  • 7:30pm: Open Discussion
  • 8:00pm: Mingling, learning, networking, more drinks

Featured Speakers (so far)

  • Dr. Tessie San Martin, CEO, Plan International USA
  • The World Bank on their 70% ICT4D failure rate
  • Ian Schuler, Internet Freedom Programs, U.S. Department of State
  • You? Apply today!

Remember, you must RSVP to attend.

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