The Art of War Blog has used a stimulating phrase “fail forward” in their recent blog entitled What We Know and What We Don’t.

“The science of strategy is based on a simple fact: we only know the tiniest fraction of what there is to know. This is true both of us as individuals and, because what we know is so small, of the largest groups, which combine our knowledge. When you think about everything that there is to know and compare it to what we actually know, our ignorance is monumental. Because of this, strategy is built to be very accepting of failure. The idea is to “fail forward” in such a way that, even when what you try doesn’t work, it puts you in a better position after your move than before it.”

Food for thought: It is quite natural for the best lawyers in the blue chip firms to be perfectionists, at least in so far as the practice of law is concerned. However, when it comes to formulating strategy, I believe that the perfectionist mindset must be suspended in favor of taking action. Many good firms are paralyzed by perfectionism and out-maneuvered by those who are willing to try things and learn from their efforts. It was Edison who was asked for a comment after trying over 2000 times to make a light bulb and still failing – he responded by saying he was the only person who know 2000 ways not to make a light bulb. Of course the firm must guard against embarrassing itself or offending clients but, at the same time, the willingness to fail is essential for learning how to become premiere business developers. Even amazing lawyers in amazing firms must fail on occasion, but when they do, they “fail forward”.