Have you ever launched an idea only to see it completely fail? Or worse, simply stagnate? If you haven’t, you’re very lucky and I want to know your secret!
As a web and application developer I’ve had the opportunity to watch our clients launch many projects over the years and had the chance to learn from their experience.
1. Accepting we aren’t perfect
You may be totally in step with God’s will and plan for your life and following hard after the ideas you feel He’s entrusted to you. But you are not perfect, this world isn’t always ready and He works in mysterious ways. Too often we believe our plans are going to succeed first time. Perhaps we believe our plan is God-given, so how could it possibly fail? Or maybe we just suffer from pride or a lack of understanding. Whatever the reason, the belief that our plans will always work out first time, can be dangerous.
When you believe your plan is going to work you put everything you have into it - all the budget and time available. The problem is, this leaves no budget, time, or space for what happens if things don’t work out. Too often we’ve observed our clients invest their entire budget into a single project, without giving any chance to get feedback from their target audience.
And what’s the effect? Having exhausted all your money on version one, you now have no chance to fix what’s broken. Your plan could be really close to succeeding but all that feedback can’t be acted upon because the budget is spent.
So what’s the solution? Iterate! Try out your idea on a small scale. Invest just a portion of your budget to try out the idea and get feedback from as many people as possible. If your project has got legs it will soon become apparent - especially if you get in front of the right people.
2. Embracing failure
Anyone who has succeeded in their goals has experienced failure - and they will tell you their failures taught them more than all their successes. Failure has its value.
We can learn so much from our mistakes if we are willing to. The key here is to have a mindset that confronts failure rather than pretending it didn’t happen. Talk about the problems and mistakes with your colleagues and peers and maximise the learning potential. If you can learn early from failure you can save a lot of time, heartache and money.
3. The value of play
When we play, we learn. We discover things we would otherwise not and yet this aspect is so undervalued and even discarded in our work places and ministries.
As web developers, we try to give space to experimenting with ideas. It’s not easy. The hardest part is shifting the mindset from doing the most productive thing, to doing the most creative thing - or the most daring, experimental, outlandish thing.
The rewards of play and experimentation are incredible. We have often found a solution to a problem we didn’t realise we had whilst trying new things. We’ve had fun, bonded as a team and felt a greater sense of dignity in realising God wants us to enjoy our work.
4. Wrapping up
If you can change your culture to approach things a step at a time; if you can embrace failure and learn from it; if you can punctuate your exploration with play, you will experience a far more enjoyable way to ride out the ups and downs of delivering projects.
Reflecting on this, really, we are talking about returning to the way we did things as children - learning as we go, failing and trying again and having fun with it. And isn’t that who God called us to be before Him?
Ben has worked as a web developer and project manager in Worthers for over a decade. His conviction is to support those who serve others. When not coding, he enjoys roller hockey, cooking and playing retro computer games.