Browse Definitions:
Definition

fail fast

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

Fail fast is a philosophy that values extensive testing and incremental development to determine whether an idea has value. An important goal of the philosophy is to cut losses when testing reveals something isn’t working and quickly try something else, a concept known as pivoting.

Fail fast is often associated with the lean startup methodology. The philosophy, which is aligned with management by objectives, is often embraced by businesses that want to develop new products and services with less financial risk than traditional approaches to product development provide. The concept of failing fast is also associated with differences between the waterfall and agile approaches to software development. Just as a team using the waterfall methodology hands a completed product over to the customer, so too does a company that uses traditional research and development (R&D) methodologies. In contrast, a company that embraces the fail fast philosophy develops their product or service incrementally, continually testing customer satisfaction to make sure the product or service meets customer needs before investing more time and money.

An important goal of the fail fast philosophy is to avoid the sunk cost effect, which is the tendency for humans to continue investing in something that clearly isn’t working because it’s human nature for people to want to avoid failure. Failing fast seeks to take the stigma out of the word "failure" by emphasizing that the knowledge gained from a failed attempt actually increases the probability of an eventual success.

Fail fast is championed by entrepreneur and author Eric Ries in his 2011 book, "The Lean Startup." Critics of the philosophy often acknowledge the validity of cutting losses early but point out that any philosophy with "failure" in the name should be avoided because the word has such an undesirable connotation. For this reason, the idea of failing fast may also be referred to as "fail fast, succeed faster." The philosophy may also be called fail early, fail better, test early or fail cheaply.

This was last updated in December 2016

Continue Reading About fail fast

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

SearchCompliance

  • internal audit (IA)

    An internal audit (IA) is an organizational initiative to monitor and analyze its own business operations in order to determine ...

  • pure risk (absolute risk)

    Pure risk, also called absolute risk, is a category of threat that is beyond human control and has only one possible outcome if ...

  • risk assessment

    Risk assessment is the identification of hazards that could negatively impact an organization's ability to conduct business.

SearchSecurity

  • phishing

    Phishing is a form of fraud in which an attacker masquerades as a reputable entity or person in email or other communication ...

  • vulnerability disclosure

    Vulnerability disclosure is the practice of publishing information about a computer security problem, and a type of policy that ...

  • incident response

    Incident response is an organized approach to addressing and managing the aftermath of a security breach or cyberattack, also ...

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR)

    Business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) are closely related practices that describe an organization's preparation for ...

  • business continuity plan (BCP)

    A business continuity plan (BCP) is a document that consists of the critical information an organization needs to continue ...

  • call tree

    A call tree -- sometimes referred to as a phone tree -- is a telecommunications chain for notifying specific individuals of an ...

SearchStorage

  • flash memory

    Flash memory, also known as flash storage, is a type of nonvolatile memory that erases data in units called blocks.

  • NAND flash memory

    NAND flash memory is a type of nonvolatile storage technology that does not require power to retain data.

  • NOR flash memory

    NOR flash memory is one of two types of nonvolatile storage technologies.

SearchSolidStateStorage

  • hybrid hard disk drive (HDD)

    A hybrid hard disk drive is an electromechanical spinning hard disk that contains some amount of NAND Flash memory.

Close